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Money And Medicine

Airs Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Surgeons at UCLA Medical Center.

As Congress continues its battle over the budget deficit, policy makers are turning their attention to one of the largest driving forces behind the nation’s debt – government health care spending. The focus of the health care reform debate has shifted in recent years from access to cost, and recent studies suggest that a third of all health care expenditures are unnecessary. "Money & Medicine," examines the waste that pervades our health care system and puts a human face on the medical, ethical, and financial challenges of containing runaway health care spending.

Kurt Thompson receiving proton beam therapy for prostate cancer.
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Above: Kurt Thompson receiving proton beam therapy for prostate cancer.

Cindy Hepner being treated for breast cancer at Intermountain Medical.
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Above: Cindy Hepner being treated for breast cancer at Intermountain Medical.

A CT scan, one of 95 million high tech imaging studies that are done every year at a cost of over 100 billion dollars.
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Above: A CT scan, one of 95 million high tech imaging studies that are done every year at a cost of over 100 billion dollars.

Healthcare providers are rewarded for the quantity instead of the quality of the services they offer and many Americans still believe the notion that “more care is better care.” Health care policy experts are concerned about the financial implications of a health care system that encourages the overutilization of medical services, further inflating health care costs without necessarily improving patient medical outcomes.

"Money & Medicine" provides a timely contribution to the debate over health care reform and deficit reduction that is heating up as the 2012 presidential election approaches.

Filmed at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and Intermountain Medical Center in Utah, Money & Medicine illuminates the powerful forces driving soaring healthcare costs as well as proven strategies that effectively reign in excessive medical expenses.

With candor and poignancy, Money & Medicine captures the painful end-of-life treatment choices made by patients and their families, ranging from very aggressive interventions in the ICU to palliative care at home. The film also investigates the controversy surrounding diagnostic testing and screening as well as the shocking treatment variations among patients receiving a variety of elective procedures.

In addition to the doctor and patient interviews, Money & Medicine also features interviews with some of the nation’s leading health policy experts. These experts assert that in order to contain health care spending, more comparative effectiveness research needs to occur, and the results need to be widely disseminated so they alter the practice patterns of doctors and encourage more evidence-based medicine.

Additionally, patients should become better informed partners in shared medical decision making, and care delivery systems should be less fragmented. And, the incentives built into the health care financing system that reward volume over value should be eliminated.

Beyond these far-reaching policy discussions, Money & Medicine encourages viewers to evaluate their own behaviors – whether it’s executing an advanced directive, thinking twice about diagnostic testing, or questioning doctors more carefully about the risks, benefits and possible outcomes of elective procedures.

"Money & Medicine" is a production of Public Policy Productions in association with THIRTEEN for WNET – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Producer and director is Roger Weisberg. Editor is Pascal Akesson. Production Manager is Suzanne Beffa. The music is composed by Richard Fiocca. Design and animation is by Bill Bergeron-Mirsky. For THIRTEEN: Executive Producer is Julie Anderson. Executive-in-Charge is Stephen Segaller. Post-production Supervisor is Stephanie Carter.

Funding for Money & Medicine is provided by the Fledgling Fund, Charles A. Frueauff Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Missouri Foundation for Health, Silverweed Foundation, Park Foundation, Odyssey Fund, Spunk Fund and Trull Foundation.

Video

Money And Medicine Trailer

Above: Examine the medical, ethical and financial challenges of containing runaway healthcare spending. "Money & Medicine," in addition to illuminating the so-called waste and overtreatment that pervade our medical system, explores promising ways to reduce healthcare expenditures while improving the overall quality of medical care. With candor and poignancy, the documentary captures the painful end-of-life treatment choices made by patients and their families, ranging from aggressive interventions in the ICU to palliative care at home. The film also investigates the controversy surrounding diagnostic testing and screening, as well as the shocking treatment variations among patients undergoing an assortment of elective procedures. "Money & Medicine" provides a timely contribution to the debate over healthcare reform and deficit reduction that is heating up as the 2012 presidential election approaches.