KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Comparative Effectiveness May Not Produce Hoped-For Savings, Study Finds

One component of Democrats' health reform plan, comparative effectiveness research, would seek to improve quality and lower medical costs by identifying the most clinically and cost-effective treatments available, but a new study by the Rand Corp. finds the impact of the research may be slow to arrive, BusinessWeek reports. "In the US, where the doctor-patient relationship is sacrosanct, just because a study says a particular treatment is superior for most patients, or the most cost-effective, doesn't mean practitioners will embrace it," according to BusinessWeek.

The economic stimulus bill, passed in February, directed $1.1 billion toward this type of research, but researchers say the program may be shortchanged by restrictions on how its findings can be used. The Rand report says, according to Business Week, "Past efforts have shown that incentives or other mechanisms may be needed to change behavior. Because the stimulus bill specifically prohibits using the results of federally funded comparative effectiveness research ... to guide payment policy or benefit design, developing strong incentives that will drive down spending is considerably less likely (Arnst, 9/8).

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