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Think Out Loud

RX: Containing Costs

Pete Springer/OPB

As often happens, we had a spirited conversation in the studio after a show last week. We’d been talking about the signing of the healthcare reform bill with John Evans, an anesthesiologist and the president-elect of the Oregon Medical Association, and Pam Mariea-Nason, the director of health policy and community engagement for CareOregon. John Evans was worried about a provision in the new law that will give a presidentially appointed board the ability to decide what will — and won’t — be covered by Medicare. He and Mariea-Nason both spoke approvingly of Oregon’s own historic efforts at healthcare prioritization and, more broadly, its culture of cost containment

And they both agreed that — somehow — the cost of healthcare has to be brought under control. But they are not at all sure that the new law will do that.

In short, they gave us the ingredients for another hour of radio.

In this hour we’ll talk about the roles of both doctors and patients in containing costs. When do — and when should — doctors think about the cost of care? What about patients?

What conversations about cost, if any, do you have these days when you see your doctor?

What’s the right balance between high-cost, high-tech, potentially high-reward medicines or interventions and lower-cost lower-tech, potentially lower-reward ones?

And an overarching question for a society still reverberating from “Death Panel” shouts: is it actually possible to contain healthcare costs in a meaningful way without rationing care?

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