Rick Scott and CPR: "Not So Innocent," And Just Plain Wrong

April 27, 2009 11:25 am ET

On April 27, 2009, Richard L. Scott's group, Conservatives for Patients Rights, released an ad titled "Not So Innocent."  In the ad, Scott uses misleading information about a newly formed council and its possible effect upon the health care of Americans.

Conservatives for Patients' Rights Ad: Not So Innocent

Scott: "Deep inside the stimulus bill, Congress buried an innocent sounding board: the Federal Coordinating Council For Comparative Effectiveness Research.  It's not so innocent - it's the first step in government control over your health care choices.  This federal council is modeled after the national board that controls Britain's health system...Not only could a government board deny your choice in doctors, but it can control life and death for some patients."

But The Council "Will Not Recommend Clinical Guidelines" For Treatment...

Council "Will Not Recommend Clinical Guidelines."  The published guidelines for the Council are very clear about the decisions its members will make: The Federal Coordinating Council For Comparative Effectiveness Research "will not recommend clinical guidelines for payment, coverage or treatment." [HHS.gov, 3/19/09, emphasis added]

...And The Council Is Practicing Transparency

The Council Has Begun To Proceed With Full Transparency.  If citizens are concerned about the actions of the Council, they should take comfort that there has already been a public hearing.  According to Reuters: "The Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research will hold a public listening session on April 14, 2009, in Washington, DC. The council will hear public comment regarding comparative effectiveness research and the Coordinating Council's activities...Individuals interested in addressing the council may nominate themselves to deliver a three minute oral presentation before the council. Individuals and organizations may also submit written comments for the Council's consideration. The public may also attend the session, listen live via audio conference or watch the session online at www.hhs.gov/recovery." [Reuters, 4/7/09]

Additional Public Hearings Are Scheduled.  According to the American Society of Hematology: "The main objective of the listening session is to obtain public input on CER priorities and how this research can improve the health-care system. More than 30 provider groups, pharmaceutical industry organization groups, and patient groups provided input to the Council at the April 13 session. Additional listening sessions have been tentatively scheduled for May 6 and May 13." [Hematology.org, 4/15/09]

Comparative Effectiveness Research Has Been Conducted By The Government Since Bush's Presidency

NIH Had A Budget Of $335 Million For Comparative Effectiveness Research Last Year.  According to Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post, "there's nothing particularly new about comparative effectiveness research -- the National Institutes of Health, along with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, have been doing it for years, with a budget last year of about $335 million." [Washington Post, 2/13/09]

Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) Is Necessary So That Doctors And Patients Can Make An Informed Decision About Care

Comparative Effectiveness Research Is The Comparison Of Medical Treatments.  According to Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post, "comparative effectiveness research" refers to "research done by doctors and statisticians who troll through large number of patient records to determine, for any particular disease, which treatments work best." [Washington Post, 2/13/09]

CER Supplements Physicians' Knowledge To Ensure The Best Treatment Is Provided To The Patient.  David Dale, MD of the American College of Physicians, testified in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing: "The availability of valid, comparative effectiveness data supplemented by the physician's clinical experience and professional knowledge, helps ensure that an effective treatment choice is made-one that meets the unique needs and preferences of the patient." [American College Of Physicians' Statement for the Record, 6/12/07]

CER "Is Simply A Rigorous Evaluation" Of Medical Treatment Options.  According to a December 2007 report released by the Congressional Budget Office titled Research on the Comparative Effectiveness of Medical Treatments:  "As applied in the health care sector, an analysis of comparative effectiveness is simply a rigorous evaluation of the impact of different options that are available for treating a given medical condition for a particular set of patients." [CBO.gov, 12/07]

Research Must Be Conducted By An Impartial Third-Party, Such As The Government

Conducting Research Trials Is Not Always Financially Beneficial For Private Companies. According to a December 2007 report released by the Congressional Budget Office titled Research on the Comparative Effectiveness of Medical Treatments: "For drug manufacturers, the costs of conducting additional trials to demonstrate safety and efficacy for a broader set of patients or conditions may outweigh the benefits from the increased sales that would result; in particular, the potential gains from finding a favorable result for a different population would have to be weighed against the risk that safety and efficacy could not be demonstrated conclusively." [CBO.gov, 12/07]

  • Big Business Fears CER Because Less Profitable Generics May Prove Equally Effective. Bloomberg reported, "U.S. drugmakers are working to ensure that President Barack Obama's move to encourage cheaper medical care doesn't end up dictating treatments to doctors and insurers... 'The companies fear that older generic drugs might very well turn out to be better than the newer advertised drugs, which bring in much more of a profit,' said Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs professor at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey." [Bloomberg, 4/17/09]

"Comparative Trials Can Be Risky For Manufacturers To Conduct."  According to a December 2007 report released by the Congressional Budget Office titled Research on the Comparative Effectiveness of Medical Treatments: "A trial of two statin drugs, which was sponsored by the maker of one of those drugs, found that its competitor's product was more effective both at lowering cholesterol levels and at reducing the risk of mortality - illustrating the point that comparative trials can be risky for manufacturers to conduct." [CBO.gov, 12/07]