Council To Determine Allocation of Comparative Effectiveness Research Funding Gathers Public Input on Priorities
The Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research on Tuesday held the first of at least three listening sessions in which interest groups and the public can express how they believe the $1.1 billion from the stimulus package for comparative effectiveness research should be spent, Kansas Health Institute News reports.
As part of the stimulus package, NIH and HHS each will receive $400 million and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will receive $300 million to conduct comparative effectiveness research as a means of reducing wasteful and ineffective treatments. The 15-member council -- made up of various government officials including Ezekiel Emanuel, special adviser on health policy to White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag -- was created to offer HHS guidance in determining how its funds should be allocated (Kansas Health Institute News, 4/14). The panel heard concerns about how the costs of various treatments could affect health care and coverage decisions, as well as the need for transparency and collaboration in the research process.
Myrl Weinberg, CEO of the National Health Council, said that the research must consider the needs of individual patients and should be kept apart from coverage or reimbursement decisions (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 4/15). Steven Findley of Consumers Union told the council that the comparative effectiveness research program "provides a unique opportunity for HHS to develop a strong conflict-of-interest policy." He said that such research programs were created "because so much industry-funded research fails to provide independent assessment," adding, "We urge creating a conflict-free zone for CER from the outset with 100% disclosure from both researchers and institutions" (Kansas Health Institute News, 4/14).
Randy Burkholder, associate vice president for policy at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, told the council to "consider approaches including all stakeholders," and to ensure that "no single stakeholder wields too much influence in the process" (CQ HealthBeat, 4/15).
Harold Miller, president of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement, said that some organizations, including his own, have built-in means to disseminate comparative effectiveness research and that such organizations should be granted at least $25 million. Miller said, "It does very little good to have a lot of comparative effectiveness research if people aren't aware of it or don't know how to use it."
Some witnesses suggested that comparative effectiveness research could eliminate health care disparities for certain minority populations or people with chronic conditions or mental illnesses.
The next hearings are tentatively scheduled for May 6 and May 13. At least one meeting will be held outside of Washington, D.C., CER officials said (Kansas Health Institute News, 4/14). The panel is expected to submit a report to President Obama by the end of June (CQ HealthBeat, 4/15).