Health Care Reform = Rationing has been a favorite theme of opponents throughout the debate.  While the circumstances and details change over time, this theme remains constant.  In the past week, opponents have stepped up their attacks on the nomination of Don Berwick to head CMS, citing again his positive statements about the British National Health Service. They also seized on a New York Times article that has largely taken the work of the “Dartmouth Atlas” out of context to continue their scare campaign.  (The Times feeds the Berwick/reform/rationing storyline by quoting Berwick as one of the defenders of the Dartmouth work.)

The Dartmouth researchers have shown that there is no necessary correlation–and at times a negative correlation–between high health care spending and high quality. And though the Times story attacks the Dartmouth work and researchers, it fails to refute their conclusion. The piece has generated vigorous pushback against the piece—not only by the Dartmouth researchers themselves, but by sources for the story who say their words were used out of context to criticize the project.

The problem isn’t that there aren’t limitations and ambiguities in the Dartmouth work. It’s that in the game of telephone from sources to the Times reporters to opportunists who picked up the Times story as another club to beat reform with on the airwaves, all of the nuance gets lost.

–Michael Miller, director of strategic policy