Governments throughout the industrialized world make decisions that fundamentally affect the quality and accessibility of medical care. In the United States, despite the absence of universal health insurance, these decisions have great influence on the practice of medicine. In "Medical Governance", David Weimer explores an alternative regulatory approach to medical care based on the delegation of decisions about the allocation of scarce medical resources to private nonprofit organizations. He investigates the specific development of rules for the U.S. organ transplant system and details the conversion of a voluntary network of transplant centers to one private rulemaker: the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). As the case unfolds, Weimer demonstrates that the OPTN is more efficient, nimble, and better at making evidence-based decisions than a public agency; and, the OPTN also protects accountability and the public interest more than private for-profit organizations.
Weimer addresses similar governance arrangements as they could apply to other areas of medicine, including medical records and the control of Medicare expenditures, making this timely and useful case study a valuable resource for debates over restructuring the U.S. health care system.
David L. Weimer is professor of public affairs and political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a former president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. He is the coauthor of Organizational Report Cards; Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice; and Cost-Benefit Analysis: Concepts and Practice.