The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, March 13, 2005

Great story, big social importance - zero traction

The story: Veterans Administration hospitals provide better care than private hospitals: socialized medecine working in America!

So far as I'm aware - no Nexis, can't be certain - this story, based on a 2003 NEJM study had no sustained media play at the time, and zero political traction. As reflected in the health proposals of Democratic presidential candidates, for instance.

(Given Bush's record in 'supporting' the military, I'd not put it past him to be trying to even up the score right now!)

Within that story, there's a telling detail: VA hospitals, it seems, have a computer system that works. Whereas private hospitals have invested much less in computers, so theirs are inferior.

The reason for the difference:
The costs are all up-front, but the benefits may take 20 years to materialize. And by then, unlike in the VHA system, the patient will likely have moved on to some new health-care plan. As the chief financial officer of one health plan told [the University of Chicago's Lawrence] Casalino: "Why should I spend our money to save money for our competitors?"

Follows logically.

Because of the visceral prejudice against socialized medecine there is no available frame into which such a story can slot, and it's left to perish.

(As I've pointed out several times before, the trick of news management is not to bury stories, but to let them on the front page of the Post - and have no effect at all.).

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