The Christian Science Monitor: "Should the US government mount a comprehensive effort to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various treatments for health conditions? That question is at the heart of a dispute over whether some provisions in the healthcare reform bills now under consideration in Congress eventually might lead to the rationing of care. At issue is comparative effectiveness research, which tries to figure out just how well drugs, medical devices, and surgical techniques work, compared with alternatives. Both the House and current Senate versions of health legislation would expand exisitng federal efforts in this area."
To supporters, this type of research is a way to try "to increase the efficiency of the bloated US healthcare system. But opponents see it as something that Washington in time might use to restrict patient access to risky, unproven, or expensive treatments."
"Even if the research isn't supported by a possible comprehensive health care overhaul, the stimulus package already includes over $1 billion dollars for it. The reform bill now wending through the House would institutionalize such efforts in a new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research" (Grier, 8/28).