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Medicare spending variations mostly due to health differences

Kaiser Health News, May 29, 2013

The idea that uneven Medicare health care spending around the country is due to wasteful practices and overtreatment—a concept that influenced the federal health law -- takes another hit in a study published Tuesday. The paper concludes that health differences around the country explain between 75 percent and 85 percent of the cost variations. "People really are sicker in some parts of the country," said Dr. Patrick Romano, one of the authors. That's a sour assessment for those hoping to wring large savings out of the health care system by making it more efficient.