When President Barack Obama included $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness research in his economic stimulus bill, we warned that such funding would set the stage for government rationing of your health care:
The House and Senate bills would establish a framework and funding for comparative effectiveness research and health information technology. While the Senate’s language is broad and vague, the House language provides further clarity. The House committee report states that “those [items] that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed. This type of alarming language is similar to what exists today in the British National Health Service.
In addition, billions of dollars would be spent on a health IT information “architecture” for exchanging information and training health care professionals. Combining the comparative effective research with the health IT portal opens the door to direct government intervention in the clinical decisions by physicians and other health care providers.
Now Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is moving to make sure that that doesn’t happen. He has offered an amendment to the Senate’s budget resolution that would expressly forbid Medicare and other federal health programs from using results of comparative effectiveness research to deny coverage of any treatments.
We will see if the liberal majorities in Congress will accept this protection of the doctor-patient relationship. The signs are not encouraging. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) dodged the particular question of assessing costs in comparative effective research but did tell CQ: “Controlling costs is part of health care reform. We cannot continue to spend as much as we do on health care. … We must find a way to contain costs, and part of the solution is reducing unnecessary costs and waste in our system.”