Rep. Blackburn Spreads Lies On Comparative Effectiveness Research

November 13, 2009 5:05 pm ET

During a Bloomberg forum on November 12, 2009, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn repeated a slew a false assertions on comparative effectiveness research (CER).

Rep. Blackburn Spreads Fear By Lying About Comparative Effectiveness Research

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn:

"When they look at the comparative results board, so many of the physicians and physicians practice management groups that I've met with over the last few weeks, they're very concerned about what it would mean to the quality of care that they are able to provide to their patients.  If you have a comparative results board that is going to insert their decision making into the process between that physician and that patient." [Blackburn at Bloomberg forum, 11/12/09]

The Federal CER Board Will NOT Make Recommendations

CER Council "Will Not Recommend Clinical Guidelines."  The published guidelines for the Federal Coordinating 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." [, 3/19/09, emphasis added]

The Council Has Begun To Proceed With Full Transparency.  According to Reuters: "The Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research...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" [Reuters, 4/7/09]

Comparative Effectiveness Research Is An Established - And Necessary - Government Program

Comparative Effectiveness Research Is The Comparison Of Medical Treatments.  According to the Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein, "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 Studies Examine Both The Treatments And Diagnoses Of Diseases.  According to a December 2007 report released by the Congressional Budget Office titled Research on the Comparative Effectiveness of Medical Treatments: "studies can examine not only treatments for health problems but also different procedures to screen for the presence of a disease."   [, 12/07]

The Stimulus Bill Allocated $1.1 Billion For CER. According to the New York Times: "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 New York Times, 2/15/09]

  • NIH Had A Budget Of $335 Million For Comparative Effectiveness Research Last Year. According to the Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein, "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]
  • CER Has Been Employed By States, Companies, And Federal Programs To Save Millions. The Washington Post reported: "The idea of determining which treatment works best -- and steering patients toward it -- has been employed for years by state Medicaid programs, the Veterans Health Administration and many private health plans. Systematic reviews of the mind-boggling array of drugs and treatments on the market has helped California-based Kaiser Permanente save hundreds of millions of dollars. Comparative effectiveness research has allowed the state of Washington to trim its Medicaid drug bill by $40 million a year and has shielded officials from aggressive lobbying by drugmakers, said Siri Childs, pharmacy administrator for that state." [Washington Post, 3/17/09]

Comparative Effectiveness Research Is Highly Beneficial For Patients And Doctors

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]

Applied Properly, CER Empowers Patients To Make The Best Choices For Their Own Medical Care. In a post at, Michelle Andrews wrote, "This is good stuff, not only for the medical establishment but also for patients, who are increasingly expected to play an active role in managing and paying for their healthcare." [, 3/23/09]