Health Care

News Shorts

Voluntary control of health care costs by the private sector and increased emphasis on basic health services will direct U.S. health policy during the coming decade, the executive vice president of the American Medical Association (AMA) said yesterday in a speech at the School of Public Health.

Dr. James Sammons told the crowd of about 100 that this decade could be decisive in determining whether the government or the private sector has responsibility for delivering health care.

"The outcry for federal intervention has been accompanied by cynicism about what the public sector could accomplish," Sammons said, citing government failures in urban renewal and Indian affairs. "Why should the government be any more successful with health care?"

Close Shave

Both the health insurance proposals that President Carter and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54 (D-Mass.) support fallaciously assume that government can ration health care without reducing its quality, Sammons said.


Because of rising inflation and high fixed costs, some methods of treatment are "unavoidably a luxury," Sammons said. "We must never allow the socio-economics of health care delivery to overwhelm the quality of the health care itself," he added.

The voluntary effort of the past two years to contain health care costs and to boost efficiency has worked and will continue to work, Sammons said, noting that the cost of medical services has risen 3.6 percentage points less than the overall cost of services during the past year.

Besides working to contain costs, doctors during the 80's will concentrate on the prevention of common diseases, Sammons said, adding that "by 1977 more than half of our medical residents were planning to enter primary-care medicine--family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, gynecology."

Congress should give more money for research of basic health services, particularly in underserved rural and inner-city areas, rather than for research of disease such as cancer, Sammons said. "Let's quit this foolishness that if we throw enough money into it, we'll find a cure," he added.

Sammons said he would not oppose health maintenance organizations as long as they do not receive federal subsides.

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