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Pediatrics. 1995 Oct;96(4 Pt 2):851-7; discussion 857-8.

Les Nouveaux Miserables: modern victims of social asphyxia.


During the past 30 years, social and economic barriers to health care services have increased for many Americans, especially for the nation's most vulnerable populations. Health status actually has declined for certain populations during this time. Meanwhile, national attention has been focused primarily on containing health care costs and on devising strategies for reforming the financing of health care rather than strategies for achieving improvements in the health status of the population. Existing methods of financing health care services, health research priorities, the increasing centralization and compartmentalization of health care services, and the recent failure of national health reform all serve to hinder this nation's progress towards developing a comprehensive and accountable health care system focused on promoting and achieving improved health as well as treating sickness. Recent changes in the health care marketplace, however, including a growing movement toward measuring the outcomes of medical treatments and an emphasis on improving the quality of services, have increased interest among payers and providers of health care services in investing in preventive services. Health maintenance organizations and other integrated health care delivery systems are beginning to devise incentives for increasing preventive care as well as for containing costs. The transformation of the nation's current medical care system into a true health care system will require innovative strategies designed to merge the existing fragmented array of services into coordinated and comprehensive systems for delivering primary and preventive health care services in community settings. The Community-Oriented Primary Care concept successfully blends these functions and has achieved measurable results in reducing health care costs and improving access to preventive services for identified populations.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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