The $787 billion economic stimulus bill approved by Congress will, for the first time, provide substantial amounts of money for the federal government to compare the effectiveness of different treatments for the same illness.
Under the legislation, researchers will receive $1.1 billion to compare drugs, medical devices, surgery and other ways of treating specific conditions. The bill creates a council of up to 15 federal employees to coordinate the research and to advise President Obama and Congress on how to spend the money.
To begin with, with the multitude of medical scenarios and differences in people there is no effective way to set guidelines for any one of the following things, “…drugs, medical devices, surgery and other ways of treating specific conditions.” There are most always extenuating circumstances attached each diagnosis and each individual.
We will more than likely never see anything come from this $1.1 billion but if we do it can’t do anything but harm the uninsured, underinsured, poor, disabled, and elderly. On the other side of the coin if the research is ever completed and implemented it will boost the profitability of insurance companies, slow advances in innovative techniques, drugs, and tools as well create the need to greatly expand the FDA or create another government agency to oversee the new regulations and approval or disapproval of new discoveries in medical technology.
This program will also put in the governments hands more power over the decisions that we make concerning our own lives. It’s wrong and just another way of bolstering big business at our expense.
Speaking as someone who has lived with endless health issues since birth where I see the problem in excessive medical spending is in the laziness and lack of keeping up to speed by doctors. I know it is an exhausting experience getting through medical school and an internship but doctors seem to think they can take a break from learning and thinking once they are settled into a practice. This is especially true where GP’s (your family doctor) is concerned. These are the ones how send you for countless, some perhaps necessary and some that are totally irrelevant to your symptoms. A lot of times it would be in everyone’s best interest to send you to a specialist rather than blindly testing for a half dozen different things or misdiagnosing, simply because they don’t want to admit that they have no clue what’s wrong with you.
If the government wants to cut out some of the needless spending in the world of medicine they should put in place a program that would require further educating and yearly testing of doctors. This is the underlying problem and tying doctor’s hands who are capable and competent can only serve to lessen the quality of health care.
Andrew Witty, the chief executive of the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, said European officials often considered the costs as well as the clinical benefits of new drugs — with mixed results.
“Comparative effectiveness is a useful tool in the tool kit, but it’s not the answer to anything,” Mr. Witty said in an interview. “Other countries have fallen in love with the concept, then spent years figuring out how on earth to make it work.”
Quotes from this article, U.S. to Compare Medical Treatments, in the New York Times.