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Scare stories inevitable

"It is abundantly clear," wrote New York Times economics reporter David Leonhardt, "that our medical system wastes enormous amounts of money on health care that doesn't make people healthier. . . .Yet every time Congress comes up with an idea for cutting spending, the cry goes out: Patients will suffer! You're cutting bone, not fat! How can this be? How can there be billions of dollars of general waste and no specific waste? There can't, of course. The only way to cut health care costs is to cut health care costs and, in the process, invite politically potent scare stories."Leonhardt was encouraged by recent efforts in the Senate to control health care costs, such as by reducing reimbursements to home health agencies and pushing insurers to use standardized payment systems.