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Analysis

ACA 'Myths' Fail to Link Poverty to Growth in Healthcare Spending

By Philip Betbeze  
   September 15, 2016

Healthcare can't fix poverty, but with the right focus, it can fix some of the challenges that can be attributed to poverty, claims a new book.

Social determinants can add greatly to healthcare costs, but focusing on waste and inefficiency in healthcare will only go so far, says Joe Valenti, MD.

In fact, he says, the current focus on ferreting out waste and inefficiency amount to tinkering around the edges of the real problem: poverty. It's a big cause for healthcare cost growth, and much of the ACA doesn't address it.

More concerning is that it appears to disincentivize many physicians and hospitals from treating poor patients more comprehensively.

Perhaps an introduction is in order.

Valenti is one of six physicians at a small obstetrics and gynecologic group practice in Denton TX, and he's supporting a bold book by a fellow physician who can't promote it himself.

The author of Poverty and the Myths of Health Care Reform, oncologist Richard "Buz" Cooper, passed away earlier this year at 79 from complications from pancreatic cancer. Valenti helped edit the book and shares a background in cancer research with Cooper.

Valenti is also a board member of the Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2003 from the proceeds of class action lawsuit against third-party payers brought by physicians and 19 state medical societies.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.


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