How do we decide who should receive the benefits that medical science has to offer? One approach to this decision process, that used by the state of Oregon, is described: who and what are covered, and how health care is financed and delivered, are considered. Oregon's priorities were set on the basis of broad consensus. The objective of health care reform, it was agreed, is to improve, maintain, or restore health - not universal coverage, access to health care, or cost containment. A Health Services Commission was created to consider clinical effectiveness and, through public involvement, to attempt to integrate social values into the priority list. Oregon's legislature can use the list to develop an overall health policy which recognises that health can be maintained only if investments in several related areas are balanced.
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