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MedPAC Study Undermines Dartmouth Lies—But EIR Has the Full Story

Sept. 8, 2009 (EIRNS)—A recent study by the Medicare payment Advisory Commission (Medpac) has dramatically undermined one of the chief lies of the Wennberg-Dartmouth Atlas mantra, which serves as a chief cost-cutting guide for OMB Chief Peter Orszag and the Obama Administration. As reported in a New York Times article today, Medpac has concluded that after adjusting for variances in the cost of living, the health status of beneficiaries (they are sicker in urban areas), and special payments for educational institutions, the per capita cost of Medicare for big cities like New York City and Boston are actually less than the national average. To be precise, the New York City costs are only 92% of the national average.

Levelling Medicare expenses to the level of those in rural areas, has been a key component of the Obama health care plan. The proposal was based on the bogus argument that physicians are "overutilizing" health care for patients in places like New York City, Los Angeles, and very poor areas such as McAllen, Texas, and not producing a "better quality" of care. The argument has been used to hype up legislators from rural areas to demand higher rates—by taking away funds from the higher rate areas.

The Times article quotes Dr. Steven M. Safyer, president of the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, saying:

Our Medicare expenditures reflect the low socioeconomic status of the population and the very high cost of doing business here. Many of our patients do not receive regular care before becoming eligible for Medicare, and have no one to care for them after they leave the hospital.

Safyer's argument is totally correct, but incomplete. Similarly that of Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, who says that the proposed redistribution of Medicare funds could have "catastrophic unintended consequences" for teaching hospitals and their patients.

The reality is worse than that expressed by the doctors. The Dartmouth Atlas study is based on a conscious fraud, concocted to support the line that geographic disparities in spending show $700 billion of cuttable "waste" in the Medicare system. The even more famous New Yorker Atul Gawande study on McAllen, Texas was based on this Dartmouth Atlas study.

For a full expose of the Dartmouth Atlas study, readers are referred to EIR magazine, where Dr. Ned Rosinsky has written a two part series ripping apart the Wennberg-Dartmouth Atlas fraud. The first part of the series came out in EIR's July 21 issue, and the second part appears in the Sept. 11 issue.