How reducing health care costs could work

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Many pundits have criticized the national health reform bills because they don’t do enough to reduce costs – to “bend the cost curve” – and deride the pilot programs to test cost cutting innovations. But an article by Atul Gawande in the latest New Yorker magazine describes how government sponsored pilot programs reduced skyrocketing food costs and reformed agriculture a hundred years ago. Criticized for leading to a government takeover of agriculture, the pilot programs are responsible for the fact that the average American family now spends 8% of income on food, down from 40% in 1900. Efficiencies have also allowed most workers to expand to other sectors, like health care. The pilots included data collection and analysis, dissemination of best practices, and reducing fragmentation. Sound familiar?
Ellen Andrews