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An NIH study of treatments for high blood pressure, called the ALLHAT trial, shows some of the strengths and limitations of comparative effectiveness research to improve patient care. More...
For journalists and other media professionals
The St. Petersburg Times ran an editorial Sunday about the good, the bad and the ugly in the debate over health care reform.
The piece – featured on the Times’ PolitiFact.com – offered a thoughtful and substantive take on current reform measures, including comparative effectiveness research (CER). In it, author Angie Drobnic Holan correctly states that, “A comparative effectiveness research center will conduct and publish scientific research to find which treatments are the most effective.” She futher explains, "The bills being considered now don't allow for the comparative research to be binding on health care plans or dictate treatment. Still, it seems reasonable to assume that health insurers will begin to act on the government information, refusing to fund treatments considered experimental or ineffective."
PIPC agrees with Miss Holan and hopes that this type of scientific research will provide easy-to-access medical information for both patients and providers.
It is indeed reasonable, however, to assume that health plans and government agencies will seek to make use of CER results to deny coverage of some tests and treatments. This is why it’s so important for CER policy to include strong provisions that focus research on the needs of patients, especially people with disabilities and those in racial and ethnic minorities. In addition to strong patient protections, CER must be run by an independent institute that gives full consideration to the needs of patients and providers, rather than focusing on the needs of health insurance companies and government agencies.
There are two pieces of legislation in Congress right now that champion this type of strong CER framework – H.R. 2502 and S. 1213. These bills place comparative effectiveness research in an independent, patient-centered research institute that is focused on patient needs, not policy decisions.
In fact, an updated, bipartisan version of Rep. Kurt Schrader’s CER Act of 2009 (H.R. 2502) is set to be considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee when Congress reconvenes in September. We are urging lawmakers and concerned citizens alike to support this bill – legislation that is a big step forward for health reform in our country.