AMA to PCORI: Disregard Cost When Evaluating Treatments

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A new medical research body born of healthcare reform should not consider the cost of treatments when evaluating them.

That is the opinion expressed by the American Medical Association (AMA), which over the past few days has been soliciting other groups to sign on to a comment letter regarding the type of research that should be conducted under the newly created Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The latter began seeking public input on this topic last month.

In a letter slated to be sent to PCORI Executive Director Joseph Selby on Wednesday, AMA expresses concern about the latter’s proposal to "investigate optimizing outcomes while addressing burden to individuals, resources, and other stakeholder perspectives."

Healthcare providers want more federal support for research, the letter indicates, but are concerned that including cost in the equation will lead to rationing down the line."We seek further clarification toward the Board's intentions regarding this last component and whether this includes cost analysis," the sign-on letter says. "If that is the case, we do not believe that it is consistent with the PCORI's enabling statute."

In the letter, the AMA also advises the new institute against neglecting or devoting limited attention to underdeveloped research areas, citing as examples pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. Moreover, it advocates the recruitment of members from small- and medium-sized physician practices.

Generally, though, the AMA's letter embraces the institute's goals. "Physicians today have access to a wide array of medical information," it states. "However, there remains far too little rigorous evidence readily available to physicians and patients when they need it most about which treatments work best for which patients."

To read the letter, click here: http://thehill.com/images/stories/blogs/healthwatch/pcoriletter.pdf