Nobody's declaring victory yet, but there are enormous implications in the finding reported today that something may be finally arresting the rise in health care spending.
If doctors and patients really have begun to change their behavior, the savings will be enormous, the benefit to governnment great and political repercussions obvious. Again, nobody's sure about this, but a range of experts spot factors that might help explain the trend. For example:
Finally, and most important, health economists point to a shift toward accountable care, in which providers are paid for the quality of care, not the quantity.
This is the aim, it happens, of the reshaping of Arkansas's government-backed health programs instituted by the Beebe administration. It has been met with skepticism by Republicans. They tend to deride all government health effort because they prefer a system where only those who can afford medical coverage get help. That, it must be said, would be far cheaper in terms of government outlay, but ruinously expensive in terms of illness and death.