The economic recovery package includes $1.1 billion for “comparative effectiveness” research, a comparatively small amount of money in a very big bill, but it’s getting a lot of scrutiny and attention, as Victoria Colliver in the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The attack against comparative effectiveness ranges from anti-health reform hack Elizabeth McCaughey to drug and device manufacturers. The unfair attack is that such research is “rationing.” Since when is getting better information on cost and quality a bad thing?
As the links above indicate, a lot has been written on this subject already, but I think as consumer advocates we have a particular focus on this issue.
As consumer advocates, we have a long and proud history of working to make sure that patients get the care they need. For example, we sponsored the HMO Patients’ Bill of Rights, which provides for independent medical review of insurers’ decisions to deny such care.
At the same time, we are not for allowing drug and device manufacturers to sell anything they want at any price. There is a role for steering patients to the most appropriate, most effective medications and treatments, based on the most relevant research.
Drug and device companies may attempt to use the language of consumer advocates, but their interest is profoundly anti-consumer. We need more transparency and information, not just about the cost and quality of their products, but about their tactics in the coming health reform debate.