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NYT Almost Gets Smart on Health Care


The New York Times recently profiled a major Maryland hospital, Western Maryland Health Systems, that it says “could leave a more profound imprint on the delivery of health care than President Obama’s reforms.” Shocking! How is it pulling off this magical feat?

Over the last three years, the hospital has taken its services outside its walls. It has opened a diabetes clinic, a wound center and a behavioral health clinic. It has hired people to follow up with older, sicker patients once they are discharged. It has added primary care practices in some neighborhoods.

The goal, seemingly so simple, has so far proved elusive elsewhere: as much as possible, keep people out of hospitals, where the cost of health care is highest. Here, the experiment seems to be working.

Both admissions and re-admissions are down, patients are happier, and the hospital is still managing to make a profit. Alert VM readers have seen examples of this before: innovations in service delivery and putting more emphasis on clinics tends to keep costs down. 

But with the Times being the Times, the article goes on to argue that these innovations were only possible because Maryland has state-level government price controls. That just seems wrong to us. Big box stories across the country are already experimenting with in-store clinics nationwide without any government prodding. Next to developments in med tech, service delivery innovations through clinics are among the most promising developments in health care today. It would be a pity if they were snuffed out by the next wave of regulations and price controls that Obamacare’s supporters are sure to insist we’ll soon need in order to see the program really work well.

[Walgreens image courtesy of Getty. CVS image courtesy of Wikipedia. Pills image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Jeff Jones

    Anyone with an ounce of grey matter knows that government price controls fix nothing and inevitably lead to shortages.

    The federal government is still batting zero on healthcare.

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