The Nation

The Senate Special Committee on Aging released a staff study concluding that Medicare could save up to $1.2 billion a year--and do no harm--by requiring patients to consult a second doctor before some surgery. Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.), committee chairman, made public a memo showing that some high-ranking officials favor mandatory Medicare second opinions, which the Administration publicly opposes. The study said that requiring second opinions for nine common elective operations under Medicare could eliminate 17% to 35% of them. The study listed cardiac pacemaker installation, cataract surgery, gallbladder surgery, prostate surgery, knee surgery, hysterectomy, back surgery, hernia repair and hemorrhoidectomy.

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