The Time Magazine Article and the President’s Response
By Len Zwelling
The Bitter Pill by Steven Brill was an eye-opening article in Time Magazine for some. But what was in this piece should have come as no surprise to anyone at MD Anderson.
My interpretation of the Brill article is:
MD Anderson is just one of many institutions to which these 5 points apply. Furthermore, MD Anderson did not invent the system. Berating the leadership of Anderson for clinging to the model that results in these 5 conditions should surprise no one. The only real questions left are how long can this go on and is this the way we as faculty want to see Anderson operate?
As for the how long question, my guess is not much longer for the system is going broke and payers of all kinds want some relief from the ever-escalating bills they are being asked to pay. As for whether or not the Anderson faculty appreciates all of this and acquiesces to it, I am not the one to ask, but I see no one objecting in a way that would change anything.
On March 1, President Ron DePinho responded in an email to all about the Time Magazine article in which MD Anderson had a prominent role. He discussed our goal of ending cancer. He discussed our investment of institutional resources in research and education. He discussed our non-profit status. He discussed the complexity of pricing and billing in the health care arena. He claimed that we have programs aimed at containing medical costs.
Unfortunately he really did not address any of the major issues of the article.
It is very nice that Dr. DePinho took the time to write an answer to the Time Magazine article. Now he might consider addressing the main points in the article and how they apply to Anderson and whether changes are indicated.