Medicare coverage comes under fire
February 17, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced legislation recently to block a rationing tool known as "comparative effectiveness research" (CER) from denying or delaying coverage of health care treatments for patients in federal health programs such as Medicare.

“Health care is not one size fits all. Comparative effectiveness research is a tool the government can use to limit a patient’s options for treatment and effectively ration care. My bill closes the door on this irresponsible option. The government should never interfere with decisions made between a patient and their doctor,” Roberts said.

The “Preserving Access to Targeted, Individualized, and Effective New Treatments and Services (PATIENTS) Act of 2015” prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services from using data obtained from CER to deny or delay coverage of an item or service under a federal health care program. It also requires the Secretary to ensure that any CER conducted or supported by the federal government accounts for those factors that contribute to differences in treatment response as well as patient preference, including patient-reported outcomes, genomics and personalized medicine, the unique needs of health disparity populations, and indirect patient benefits.

“We have seen how comparative effectiveness research works in Canada and the United Kingdom, and it is the patient who ends up paying the price for increased government intervention in the doctor-patient relationship,” Roberts said.

“Americans do not want the federal government limiting their treatment options and deciding what is best for them. They want to be informed and work with their doctor to determine the best individualized plan of care.”

Since the health care reform debate in 2009, Roberts has been an outspoken opponent of rationing care as a way to cut costs. As a member of both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Roberts fought the use of rationing in the new health care law during both committees’ consideration of the bill.

Cosponsors include Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Rob Portman (R-OH).

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