Bloviation or reality?
Those areÂ the alternatives posed by Washington Post columnist Steven PearlsteinÂ for what he calls a conservative media backlash againstÂ the $1.1 billionÂ for comparative effectiveness research in the economic stimulus legislation.
“For those of [you] not steeped in the argot of health policy, that’s research done by doctors and statisticians who troll through large numbers of patient records to determine, for any particular disease, which treatments work best,” Pearlstein wrote in a Feb. 13 blog post.
A House Appropriations CommitteeÂ explanationÂ (pdf, Page 52) of thisÂ researchÂ funding probably seemed perfectly sensible to most Americans, Pearlstein said.Â That is, determiningÂ which medical treatments work best –Â andÂ sharing that information with medical professionals — couldÂ help reduce the cost and boost the quality of the nation’sÂ health care.
New York Times reporter Robert PearÂ wrote a news story about comparative effectiveness research funding in the stimulus bill.
To some, the seemingly innocuous wording in the committee report spelled health care policyÂ disaster. Â One commentator said the comparative effectiveness research envisioned in the stimulus plan could put the government in control of the health care we receive. Another said it couldÂ result inÂ denying medical treatment to old people in a “duty to die” effort to save taxpayer money.
One commentator drew a line from electronic health records — another beneficiary of the stimulus bill — to comparative health records, then to government price controls, and finally to government-run health technology policy.
The “right-wing brush fire” didn’t start on its own, Pearlstein wrote. It was started by drug and medical device makers that could lose big money if inexpensive alternatives to their blockbuster drugs and devices emerge throughÂ comparative effectiveness studies.
The flames were fanned by organizations that advocate for people who have chronic diseases, like heart disease, he said. These groups fear results of comparative effectiveness could lead insurers to deny claims for expensive drugs and devices used to treat chronic disease. Northeast Ohio family practice physician andÂ blogger, Dr. Anonymous,Â commented on this discussion in aÂ WednesdayÂ blog entry.Â
What do you think? Bloviation or reality? Please post your comment below.
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