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Opinion: Patients are not consumers

The New York Times, April 22, 2011

Earlier this week, The Times reported on Congressional backlash against the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a key part of efforts to rein in health care costs. This backlash was predictable; it is also profoundly irresponsible, as I'll explain in a minute. But something else struck me as I looked at Republican arguments against the board, which hinge on the notion that what we really need to do, as the House budget proposal put it, is to "make government health care programs more responsive to consumer choice." Here's my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as 'consumers'?