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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, July 26, 2007

On the blogs: the new 'valley of death,' controlling healthcare costs

On Nature Network Boston, M. William Lensch, a scientist at Children's Hospital Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, writes a mournful entry about the gap created when researchers must depend on small foundation grants now that government funding of science -- which helps pay for a sponsoring institution's overhead -- is shrinking. It's a new version of the "valley of death" between academic research and commercialization of a discovery.

"With private grants ... you might be paying for all your own reagents but you are not paying your share for the bench space you have, the light shining down on it, or the salary of who sweeps the floor around it relative to someone with the same amount of grant support from the NIH," he writes. "Dig? Here’s where the Valley of Death comes in."

On WBUR's CommonHealth, John E. McDonough of Health Care For All outlines the predicament facing Massachusetts as it expands access to coverage while costs rise. He questions the objectives of the state Quality and Cost Council, created by the healthcare law.

"The set of goals embraces a popular hypothesis in health policy -- that if we just get quality right, given the documented amount of clinical waste in our system, that’s the magic pill to cure our cost disease. Wouldn’t it be luverly?" he writes. "What if this hypothesis is wrong? What if we do everything quality-wise and costs still rise at destructive, unsustainable rates? Are we willing to consider "R" word - regulation?"

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 12:11 PM
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