Monday, August 11, 2008

Comparative Effectiveness Compare and Contrast

Since Sen. Max Baucus introduced his latest legislative attempt to create a national center on comparative clinical effectiveness research, we’ve had some time (OK, OK, a week—it is summer, after all) to dig into the details.

With the help of our colleagues over at “The Pink Sheet,” we’ve put together a list of some of the key differences between the Baucus bill (S 3408) and previous comparative effectiveness legislation—including language in the senator’s own Medicare Part D price negotiation bill from 2007.

So here’s a little compare and contrast, as reported in this week’s issue of The Pink Sheet.”

Organizational structure: Baucus would create the “Health Care Comparative Effectiveness Research Institute” as an independent, public-private entity. Past efforts had the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality as a central player: The CHAMP Act would have established a center inside AHRQ, and Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine)'s bill would have established a trust fund through the quasi-government agency.

Who sets the agenda?: Research priorities would be determined by the center itself. That’s a change from the comparative effectiveness language in Baucus’ Medicare Part D price negotiation bill, under which HHS would set the research agenda. But the government would have some influence over what would be studied: the HHS secretary and NIH director would sit on the governing board.

Money, money, money: Baucus calls for appropriations of $5 million in 2009, $25 million in 2010 and $75 million in 2011. Starting in the fourth year, annual contributions would be made from the Medicare Trust Fund ($1 per beneficiary per year), revenues generated by a fee on private health insurance policies ($1 per insured person per year); and general revenues ($75 million a year). Funding would increase to $300 million a year by the year 2013, and all funding would sunset after 10 years.

By comparison, the CHAMP Act set government appropriation levels at $90 million, $100 million and $110 million during the first three years, but was not as direct in setting levels for private participation. The bill said that the private sector contribute beginning in the fourth year to bring the total trust fund amount of $375 million.

And then there’s the billion-dollar question for industry….

How will the research be used?: Baucus does not offer any specific guidance on how the information can or cannot be used by private or public payors. That’s a big change from the price negotiation bill, which clearly stated that “authorizing consideration of comparative clinical effectiveness studies in developing and reviewing formularies under the Medicare prescription drug program.”

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