The Commonwealth Fund July 2008 National Scorecard on the U.S. Health System Performance...

Thu Jul 17, 2008 5:33pm EDT

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The Commonwealth Fund July 2008 National Scorecard on the U.S. Health System
Performance is a Political Statement, Not a Valid Measure of U.S. Medical

NEW YORK, July 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Though the Commonwealth Fund
report claims to measure the performance of American health care, its
conclusions are political, not scientific," says Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D., of
the Hudson Institute.  McCaughey points out that nowhere in the Commonwealth
report is there a measure of how well patients in the U.S. survive major
illnesses, compared with patients in other countries. "That is the true
measure of a health care system -- what are your chances of recovering from
illness?" says McCaughey.

The Executive Director of the Commonwealth Fund tips the organization's hand
by reminding the report's readers of the upcoming presidential election.
"Voters deserve more reliable, unbiased evidence of the strengths and
weaknesses of American health care than what the Commonwealth Fund has put
out," says McCaughey.  

The report claims to compare countries along "37 core performance indicators."
 What are these indicators? Not average survival rates after a cancer
diagnosis, or survival after a heart attack.  Instead the report measures
minor procedural matters such as percentage of heart failure patients who
leave the hospital with written follow-up instructions.

"What really matters are survival rates -- the likelihood that a heart attack
victim leaves the hospital alive," says McCaughey.

In the United States, a woman diagnosed with cancer has a 63% chance of living
at least five years after the diagnosis. A man has a 66% chance. Those are the
highest survival rates in the world, and these figures reflect the care
received by all Americans, not just those with health insurance.  In Great
Britain, which has had "universal health care for half a century," the
survival rates are 53% for women and 45% for men according to the largest ever
international survey of cancer survival rates.

Astoundingly, the Commonwealth report gives the U.S. poor marks for "capacity
to innovate and improve to achieve excellence."  But the report's definition
of innovation has nothing to do with new cures and new treatments.  It is
defined as emphasizing primary care.   In fact, the U.S. leads the world in
the creation of new cures and breakthrough medical knowledge.  In the 1980s, a
heart attack victim who made it to the hospital alive still faced a 20% risk
of dying during the hospital stay and a 40% risk of dying within a year.
Medical innovation has reduced that risk now to less than 5% (Health Affairs,
Jan-Feb, 2007).

SOURCE  Hudson Institute

Betsy McCaughey of the Hudson Institute, +1-212-534-3047, mobile:
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