Healthcare research point of contention

March 2, 2009 at 12:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- Research of healthcare alternatives ordered as part of the new federal stimulus plan could prove to be damaging, U.S. patient advocacy groups say.

The Boston Globe said Monday while advocacy groups and manufacturers of healthcare goods generally support the U.S. government's plan to research health services, they are concerned such a study could negatively affect Medicare coverage.

"Medicare denials of coverage could have a devastating effect in terms of one-size-fits-all determinations that could make it very, very difficult for patients to find alternatives," Rick Smith, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America vice president of policy, told the Globe.

"Healthcare is full of stories of doctors trying to do something better for their patients because what they had wasn't working," Heritage Foundation research fellow Dennis Smith said. "My concern is that comparative effectiveness, in the hands of government, starts stifling that kind of innovation."

The Globe said $1.1 billion of the federal funds offered in the stimulus bill has been tabbed for so-called comparative effectiveness research seemingly aimed at streamlining disease treatment.

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