hospital surgery pictured in the documentary, US Health Care: The Good NewsYou don’t often find the words “health care” and “good news” in the same sentence, but in a new Public Television documentary, we learn that while groups on all sides argue the merits and limitations of reform initiatives, a few American communities are already getting the job done. Correspondent T.R. Reid reports they are accomplishing what few have been able to do – deliver quality care for reasonable cost, and in some cases cover just about everybody in town.

The hopeful stories profiled in “U.S. Health Care: The Good News,” begin with Mesa County, Colorado, the region of the country with the nation’s lowest health care spending, according to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. Outcomes there are just as good as places that spend twice as much.

In this community of nearly 150,000 people, Reid finds a finely tuned relationship among doctors, hospitals and insurers that places an emphasis on prevention, boasts a thriving pre-natal care program for poor women, and an efficient electronic information exchange. All while extending health care to nearly all of its citizens at a fraction of the cost of high-spending regions.

Mesa County isn’t alone in producing high-value health care. Reid takes viewers to other high-quality, low-cost health systems in cities and towns from coast to coast, including Seattle, Washington; Everett, Washington; and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Some experts estimate that we spend $700-800 billion annually on unnecessary care. “If every local health care system could be as efficient as the low-spending communities spotlighted in this film, we could finally afford to provide quality health care at a reasonable cost for every American,” says Reid. And that, he notes, “is indeed good news.”

WATCH the show’s trailer below…

Journalist T.R. Reid, a longtime foreign correspondent for The Washington Post and author of The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care (2009), is the program’s writer, narrator and correspondent. The one-hour documentary, produced by Photopia Productions in cooperation with Rocky Mountain PBS, will begin airing on PBS stations starting February 16.

Check your local PBS listings for the date and time in your area.

A sampling of PBS member stations airing the documentary: Rocky Mountain PBS Colorado, WGBH Boston, WETA HD and TV6 Washington, D.C., WLIW World Cable New York (WNET 13 and WLIW 21 to be scheduled), KQED San Francisco, WTTW Chicago, New Hampshire Public Television, KAET Phoenix, KECT St. Louis, KERA Dallas, and KUHT Houston.

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