Monday, September 5, 2016

Misleading headlines and "negotiating funding"

Britain's National Health Service is in the news again. An article in The Telegraph is headlined "Obese patients and smokers banned from routine surgery  in 'most severe ever' rationing in the NHS."

Yet reading the article, while it talks about limiting surgery for smokers and the obese, the text speaks of the future -- "will be", "are going to", etc.

What's really happening? Note that, while waiting lists are routine in Britain, these draconian changes apparently haven't gone into effect. Instead, this looks like part of the ongoing game of chicken between the government (which wants to spend less) and medical providers (who want more money).

It looks very much like reports I see late every autumn in the United States as insurers, pharmacies, and medical providers negotiate rates for the next year. This sometimes involves a letter from the insurer or the hospital which basically says the other side is unreasonable and hopes patients will call and complain.

So the NHS may reduce the medical care provided to smokers and obese patients, or the government might find more money. Or the threat may not actually happen because it was just a negotiating ploy.

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