As the Senate trims back the House stimulus bill, some lawmakers — so-called moderates like Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) — are targeting the $1.1 billion slated for comparative effectiveness research. Here is Nelson explaining his opposition Democratic “sacred cows”:
I am working with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to try to redirect the major stimulus bill to boost more job creation spending and trim non-stimulative items….This isn’t about pork, but it may be about sacred cows.
But as Merrill Goozner points out, “comparative effectiveness research at this level is nothing more than giving study grants, which would provide an immediate stimulus to the economy.” Currently, only a limited amount of evidence is available about “which treatments work best for which patients and whether the added benefits of more-effective but more-expensive services are sufficient to warrant their added costs.” As a result, the American health care system wastes billions of dollars on unneeded care. Reducing this wasteful spending would go a long way towards lowering overall health care costs and, in turn, making health care more affordable.
So in some ways this is the ideal kind of stimulus. More research funding creates more research jobs, but it also invests in future savings and lays down the groundwork for substantial health care reform.
,The Kaiser Network points out: Sen Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) plan to propose an amendment that would require electronic health records to collect information on race, ethnicity and gender in an effort to help eliminate health care disparities.