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Health Care Crisis Examined


Health Care Crisis Examined in Lecture May 21

Dr. Robert M. Kaplan, professor of medicine and public health at UCLA, will discuss how to improve health care and reduce costs at UC Riverside event.

(April 30, 2009)

Robert M. Kaplan

Robert M. Kaplan

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – How to prevent disease and make better-informed decisions about health care can be confusing in a climate of contradictory studies and advice.

Dr. Robert M. Kaplan, the Wasserman Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Public Health at UCLA, will discuss how to interpret the array of medical information available to the public and will address policy questions that affect the cost of health care on Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m. at the Victoria Club, 2521 Arroyo Drive, Riverside. Reservations are requested by May 10. Call (951) 827-4290 or e-mail tracy.cordova@ucr.edu.

Kaplan’s lecture – “Health Care Crisis in Southern California: Can We Improve Health Care and Reduce Costs?” – is presented by the Public Policy Initiative @ UCR as part of the Bob and Helga Wolf Public Policy Lecture series. The World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California is co-sponsoring the event.

“This is a very timely topic, given the severity of the economic crisis here in Southern California and the imminent likelihood of major health-sector reform in the country,” said Anil Deolalikar, associate dean of the UCR College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and director of the Public Policy Initiative @ UCR. “Dr. Kaplan is a respected authority on public health reform, and his talk will be of much interest to the general public as well as to medical practitioners, public health officials and policy-makers.”

Kaplan is director of the UCLA/RAND Health Services Research training program, and is a past president of the American Psychological Association Division of Health Psychology, the International Society for Quality of Life Research, the Society for Behavioral Medicine, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science and editor-in-chief of the journal Health Psychology.

The UC Riverside alumnus (M.A. psychology, 1970, Ph.D. psychology, 1972) is the author of hundreds of books, book chapters, journal articles and scholarly papers.

His most recent book, “Disease, Diagnoses, and Dollars” (Springer, 2009), analyzes scientific studies on cancer screening and the prevention of heart disease. He concludes that the benefits of cancer screening and of medical treatment to prevent heart disease have been vastly overestimated. The book also provides guidance on how to read and interpret medical literature so that patients can make better-informed choices for themselves and for their families, and raises important public policy questions.

Much of Kaplan’s analysis in “Disease, Diagnoses, and Dollars” concentrates on differences in health care costs and health outcomes in Southern California communities, including Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and San Diego. “Overuse of medical care by health providers in some communities is driving up costs and placing patients at unnecessary risk without any real health benefit,” he says.

Overuse of health care has serious implications for health and the economy, Kaplan says.

“The United States currently spends 16 percent of its gross domestic product on health care. Yet some Southern California communities have significantly lower costs and there is little evidence that areas that receive more expensive care have better health outcomes than communities that spend far less,” Kaplan says. “At the national level, overuse is driving up the cost of health care benefits and insurance premiums for employers and individuals, increasing the number of Americans who are uninsured, and reducing the competitiveness of American companies. The ultimate result of greater expenditure may be a reduction in population health.”

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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