Word is that Sen. President Therese Murray’s cost control legislative proposal is coming soon — maybe this week or next. As we kick off what we hope will be a vigorous cost control discussion, it may be helpful to start with a joint reading project. I have a book suggestion — Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer – by Shannon Brownlee of the New America Foundation.
Health policy specialists identify three categories of poor quality — underuse of necessary care, misuse of care, and overuse of unnecessary care. Overtreated is an entire volume devoted to understanding the third category. A lot of it is familiar terrain — prescription drugs, imaging, bone marrow transplants for breast cancer. Yet it’s powerful to read all these examples of overuse assembled in one volume.
Many prominent health thought leaders, such as Dr. Don Berwick at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, have asserted for years that as much as one third of health spending is clinical waste. Overtreated is a great compendium to back up this assertion. And it’s an appropriate place to start the health cost control conversation.