On-Air Highlights

'Money & Medicine' investigates nation's healthcare crisis

Written by Colette Clarke, Interactive Producer | Sep 17, 2012 7:10 AM

money-medicine.jpgAs Congress continues its battle over the budget deficit, policy makers are turning their attention to one of the largest driving forces behind the nation’s debt – government health care spending.  The health care crisis has shifted in recent years from access to cost, and recent studies suggest that a third of all health care expenditures are unnecessary. Money & Medicine, a new documentary premiering nationwide on Tuesday, September 25 at 9 p.m. ET on witf, examines the waste that pervades our health care system and puts a human face on the medical, ethical, and financial challenges of containing runaway health care spending.

Healthcare providers are rewarded for the quantity instead of the quality of the services they offer and many Americans still believe the notion that “more care is better care.” Health care policy experts are concerned about the financial implications of a health care system that encourages the overutilization of medical services, further inflating health care costs without necessarily improving patient medical outcomes.  Money & Medicine provides a timely contribution to the debate over health care reform and deficit reduction that is heating up as the 2012 presidential election approaches.

Filmed at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and Intermountain Medical Center in Utah, Money & Medicine illuminates the powerful forces driving soaring healthcare costs as well as proven strategies that effectively reign in excessive medical expenses.  With candor and poignancy, Money & Medicine captures the painful end-of-life treatment choices made by patients and their families, ranging from very aggressive interventions in the ICU to palliative care at home.  The film also investigates the controversy surrounding diagnostic testing and screening as well as the shocking treatment variations among patients receiving a variety of elective procedures.

In addition to the doctor and patient interviews, Money & Medicine also features interviews with some of the nation’s leading health policy experts.   These experts assert that in order to contain health care spending, more comparative effectiveness research needs to occur, and the results need to be widely disseminated so they alter the practice patterns of doctors and encourage more evidence-based medicine.  Additionally, patients should become better informed partners in shared medical decision making, and care delivery systems should be less fragmented.  And, the incentives built into the health care financing system that reward volume over value should be eliminated.  Beyond these far-reaching policy discussions, Money & Medicine encourages viewers to evaluate their own behaviors – whether it’s executing an advanced directive, thinking twice about diagnostic testing, or questioning doctors more carefully about the risks, benefits and possible outcomes of elective procedures.

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  • njpahess img 2012-09-19 10:34

    In listening to your guest describe the landlord/tenant relationship between hospitals/healthcare systems and healthcare providers, I was struck by the fact that this sounds a lot like education. The teachers, who are the specialists when it comes to educating kids, are subordinated to the system, which sets up regulations and guidelines for "accountability" which tie the hands of the very people who could improve the experience of their "customers," the kids. While the bottom line in hospitals is money, in education, it's test scores. This type of a system not only contributes to burnout, but also fails to acknowledge the importance of qualitative standards - the customer care piece - and ironically, create a less desirable experience in the long run. Providers are exhausted, customers are dissatisfied, and we wonder why the system is broken.

    Lisa Hess
    York, PA