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More than waste and inefficiency, poverty fuels rising health care costs

Waste and inefficiency are often blamed for rapidly rising health care costs. Poverty is an even larger determinant to which we need to pay more attention.
People register at dawn for the first Remote Area Medical clinic in Smyth County, Va., in April 2016. RAM provides free medical care for low-income people and to people who do not have health insurance in several states across the country.

For years, experts have blamed problems in health care delivery and its rising cost on waste and inefficiency. While they are certainly contributors, it’s time to acknowledge poverty as an even larger determinant.

That’s the message of “Poverty and Myths of Health Care Reform,” written by Dr. Richard (Buz) Cooper, who died last year before seeing the book in print. The author, a respected researcher and a colleague of mine at the Physicians Foundation, questions conventional policy assumptions about the state

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