Harry & Louise Redux

  • by: |
  • 07/24/2007
Nearly 15 years ago, when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton proposed to restructure American health care in the image of the European and Canadian systems, most health insurance providers blasted her plan.

What a difference a few years make. Just last month, Senator Clinton and the very same insurers -- in their current incarnation as a trade group called America's Health Insurance Plans -- stood shoulder-to-shoulder in support of such a scheme. Their plan would give the federal government the power to determine what new medicines and services to cover based on budgetary considerations.

So what's changed? Not Senator Clinton -- she has always regarded government as the best arbiter of health care value.

It's the health insurers who have flipped, thinking the scheme will help them save a few bucks.

The model for this marriage of old foes is Britain's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), which employs comparative effectiveness studies in evaluating whether to pay for new and often expensive medicines.

More often than not, NICE recommends against using the new treatment because it's not "cost-effective" when compared to existing treatments.

That's why many Britons refer to NICE as "NASTY" -- "Not available, so treat yourself."

As health care costs have risen, many policymakers and insurance industry elites have declared that innovative and life-changing new treatments are not worth the price. What a disaster it would be for medical innovation if a narrow-minded focus on cost took precedence over new treatments, new drugs, and personalized health care decision-making.

Here's the rest of the story as reported in the Wisconsin State Journal:


On Wisconsin!

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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