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Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care Is Better Than Yours Paperback – 1 Apr 2010

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About the Author

Phillip Longman, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, is the author of numerous articles and books on health care, demographics, and public policy. His most recent book, "The Next Progressive Era, " was published by PoliPointPress in April 2009. He is also the author of "The Empty Cradle, " published by Basic Books in March 2004. The book examines how the rapid yet uneven fall in birth rates around the globe is affecting the evolution of culture and politics.Mr. Longman is also the author of "Born to Pay: The New Politics of Aging in America" (1987) and "The Return of Thrift: How the Collapse of the Middle Class Welfare State Will Reawaken Values in America" (1996). Mr. Longman's work has appeared in the "Atlantic," the "Financial Times," "Foreign Affairs," "Foreign Policy," the "Harvard Business Review," the "New Republic," the "New York Times Magazine," the "Wall Street Journal," "Washington Monthly," the "Washington Post," and the "Wilson Quarterly." He is a frequent public speaker, including addresses to the National War College, the Department of Health and Human Services, PopTech, and "Fortune Magazine's" annual "Brainstorm" conference. He is also frequently interviewed by both foreign and domestic media, including National Public Radio, MSNBC, the BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Der Spiegel, and many others. Formerly a senior writer and deputy assistant managing editor at "U.S. News & World Report, " he has won numerous awards for his business and financial writing, including UCLA's Gerald Loeb Award and the top prize for investigative journalism from Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Delivers on its central premise and way more 28 April 2010
By Keith M. Toussaint - Published on
Format: Paperback
Best care anywhere? The VA? You better believe it.

The second edition of "Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care I Better Than Yours" just hit the bookstore shelves and I just lapped it up. I was offered the first edition of this book back in 2007 when I was new to working in health care and so very uninformed about it. This book really swept away the cobwebs in my mind in that I had no concept that the incentives imbedded in our system of medical care delivery did not always encourage the *best* care. It, in fact, encourages *more* care which as we know from decades of work in comparing medical effectiveness (see Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care) actually suggests a negative correlation to outcomes.

In that way, this book very much undersells itself - it's about way more than just the VHA. It does what it sets out to do by spelling out what researchers have found which is that in a broad range of metrics, the care provided our veterans in the Veterans Health Administration is the best care available in America today. It's also telling that this second edition is made available some 3+ years after the original and the data still hold true.

What is this data, you might ask:

* New England Medical Journal noted that the VHA was "significantly better" in all measures connected with fee-for-service Medicare
* Annals of Internal Medicine reported that the VHA was the best in all seven measures of quality in comparison to its private industry counterparts
* RAND study concludes that the VHA outperforms all other sectors of American health care in 294 measures of quality
* National Quality Research Center in Michigan found that the VHA had the highest patient satisfaction of any public or private sector health care system
* Journal of the AMA wrote in 2005 that the VHA "quickly emerged as a bright start of patient safety"

That's not even the whole list. And, by the way, they do it at a per-member cost that is 8% less than private sector counterparts. More value at lest cost. I thought that was only supposed to be possible in the private sector.

Well, as it turns out, another thing the author succinctly points out is medical care does not behave like other markets. The author refers to this phenomenon as Roemer's Law. Put succinctly: in typical markets, increased supply leads to lower prices, in medical care more supply just results in more utilization and higher costs. See, all this stuff in a very small package - and extremely quick read - and you have the makings of a classic. And it is.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I am a disabled vet, and this book will open your eyes 23 Jan. 2012
By Marc Mest - Published on
Format: Paperback
I wish the author would publish more, and wish everyone would read this.

First, I am one of this countries totally disabled vets.. What does that mean? I have no right to health insurance in this country. No private insurance company will cover me, ever. So the VA is my only access to health care. So if i am over 65 I have a right to health insurance, but not before then...

One thing I have noticed is that the average person has no clue how our health care system operates. It is when you become chronically ill or disabled do you really find out how terrible our system actually is. The author had that exact situation when his wife became sick. Which drove him to research our system.

Political forces have made competition sound like it is the solution to our health care ills, yet it really is laughable. Hospitals cost X amount to operate each year, and they bill whoever to cover the costs. The federal government is who pays for our healthcare, it is no longer the privte insurers who pick up the bill. So the federal government should have control over the hospitals who are not simple non-profits.

The VA provides excellent healthcare for a fraction of the cost. Of course it was not always this way, and I have been on both sides of the quality curve of the VA. It is simply because they do not treat insurance cards like every other health care provider in this country. They are not trying to fill beds and utilize every facility to cover a revenue target.

I love the VA. I get to spend 30 - 60 mins with my doctor, and I get real answers and not the answer that will make him or her the most money. For my injuries, the VA are the experts.

This book is must read for everyone in this country.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Notes section has many GREAT links! 12 Jan. 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I received this book on Monday 1/10/2011 and consider it a page turner. I applied for VA coverage in December of 2010 before I was aware of the book. I had no idea the American Legion is an organization that I should join and help. The Notes section of this book SHOULD have a web presence since there are MANY great links.

This book SHOULD(MUST?) be read by every Civilian Hospital Management! The health care "industry" needs major overhaul and American creativeness seems to have been hard at work in the VA system.

Patient Satisfaction? Seems that Phillip has uncovered "the rest of the story". I will be doing every thing I can to connect with the author.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very Informative 5 Jan. 2012
By Andre Grille - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a graduate student doing thesis work on the healthcare industry and and I also work in the healthcare industry. This book was an excellent introduction to the state of the industry and some of the problems we face. Whether you're researching Electronic Medical Records or healthcare - this book serves as an excellent introduction and guide.
Government getting healthcare right 22 Nov. 2011
By Joe T. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I started my career in hospital administration in the mid-70s, the VA was widely seen as the place to go for care if you couldn't afford to go anywhere else, and the place to apply for a job if you couldn't get a job at a real medical center. Today, the Veterans Health Administration is well ahead of the private sector in many areas. They have pioneered electronic medical records, do a much better job than most of the private sector in building longstanding patient relationships rather than episodically treating diseases, and are out-scoring the private sector on many indicators of clinical quality. They have worked very hard at fostering a patient-centered culture, having adopted the Planetree model system-wide and (full disclosure here) a number of VA medical centers working with my company Values Coach for building a culture of ownership on a foundation of values.

This book is the story of one of the most amazing examples of cultural transformation in the history of American healthcare - and for that matter, more broadly in the history of American business. Every healthcare leader should read this book, as should anyone who really wants to be fully informed about the ongoing debates over healthcare reform.
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