The story

Eighty-year-old Margie Graf is a health care success story, representing the kind of disease-preventing, cost-saving treatment the Obama administration envisions as it seeks to expand Americans' access to doctors.

During a routine colonoscopy, Graf's doctor discovered a large, precancerous polyp. Not wanting to undergo major surgery, Graf went to University Hospital, part of University of Missouri Health Care, where the polyp was removed using a tiny needle knife in a procedure new to the United States.

"I just thank God every day that I did, and that it was OK," said Graf, who lives in Barnett, Missouri, and works as a Wal-Mart greeter.

Doctors charged Graf $595 for an endoscopic submucosal dissection, or ESD, less than half of the typical doctor's fee for a hemicolectomy, the traditional surgery for a polyp like Graf's.

Graf was also able to go home a day after her ESD. In a hemicolectomy, a surgeon removes half the colon, a much more serious procedure requiring a longer, far costlier hospital stay and a higher risk of complications. Read full article »

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