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The daily injustices mount. The front line professionals who administer the system cry out for more discretion to depart from the rigid rules that bind them, Congress finally hears their call, and is poised to enact sweeping reforms.

Are improvements in federal sentencing law on the way? Probably not in the near future. But the new Congress will surely take up proposals to regulate the managed health care industry, and the impending debate over a proposed "Patients' Bill of Rights" law offers important lessons for federal sentencing policy.

At first blush, sentencing reform and health care reform have about as much to do with each other as Justice Breyer and Dr. Spock. But take a closer look and some interesting if imperfect parallels become apparent.