Surgery the biggest cost, say Gawande

According to Reuters, Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon who was named this week to head the company being formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to trim employee healthcare costs,  cited surgery as the single biggest U.S. healthcare cost and said there are ways to both cut costs and improve patient care. 

Gawande, 52, is a surgeon, writer and public health thought leader and practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  He is also a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School and founding executive director of the health systems innovation center, Ariadne Labs. Gawande also is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and author of four books on health care.

End-of-life care needs to take into account the wishes of patients, something which he said is now sorely lacking. 

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What CMS is trying to accomplish with a new drug pricing model

The Obama administration is trying to duplicate efforts by insurance companies to manage drug prices.  The results could lead to a change in how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) spends $20 billion a year for drugs under Part B, which are those given in doctors’ offices and hospital outpatient centers. 

According to Kaiser Health News, CMS is following recent efforts by insurers such as Aetna and Cigna to only pay for drugs that work--in the long run.

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