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Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2019;29(1):1-31. doi: 10.1353/ken.2019.0008.

The Role of Physicians in the Allocation of Health Care: Is Some Justice Better than None?


Physicians' advocacy obligations are best understood as going beyond advocacy on behalf of individual patients, which I call the "individualistic view," to include advocacy for intelligent research-based allocation schemes that promote good outcomes and cost-effective care for all patients, which I call the "systemic view." This systemic view includes moving beyond self-interest to promote less-wasteful and more cost-conscious allocation decisions and the setting of priorities at all levels to expand health care access. It includes physician involvement in discussions with patients in the context of clinical care, involvement in the formulation and administration of benefit structures and other allocation policies, and, finally, involvement in promoting public dialogue about health care priorities. This involvement is based on a concept of a deliberative process that can result in "just enough" decisions within systems for the preservation and promotion of health care and other societal goods.


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