June 09,2009

Press Contact:

Erin Shields (Baucus) 202-224-4515
Chris Thorne (Conrad) 202-224-2043

Baucus, Conrad Introduce Bill to Invest in Research on Best Practices in Health Care

Finance, Budget Chairs would give doctors and patients more information on which treatments work best for which patients

Washington, DC – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) today introduced legislation to improve the quality of health care that Americans receive by ensuring doctors and patients have the best possible research and information on the effectiveness of different health care treatments.

“Doctors and patients don’t have enough information on which treatments work best for which patients and that increases waste,” Baucus said. “Investing in research on best practices will drive down health care costs over the long run and will be an essential part of our effort to overhaul the health care system this year.”

“There are three principles to health care reform: choice, quality and cost. The fact is that our health care system is not as efficient as it should be, and that is driving up costs," Conrad said. "With more research, patients and their doctors can make better choices about health care treatments -- meaning we could lower costs and improve health care quality and patient outcomes. Healthier people should mean lower health care costs.”

The Baucus-Conrad bill, The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Act of 2009, would establish a private, nonprofit corporation, called the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to generate scientific evidence and new information on how diseases, disorders and other health conditions can be treated to achieve the best clinical outcome for patients. Providing patients and doctors with more unbiased data on the effectiveness of the treatments available to them would reduce the rate of growth in health care costs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. An increased focus on health care research is expected to play a key role in comprehensive health care reform legislation expected to be considered in the Finance Committee this month.

The Institute would prioritize treatments for research – including surgical procedures, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other measures. Research would be conducted by trusted public and private organizations approved by the Institute’s diverse board of directors, which would include practicing doctors, patients, pharmaceutical and biotechnology makers. Understandable information would be made available to clinicians, patients, and the public, so all Americans will have more of the kind of information they need to avoid unnecessary treatments and be well-informed health care consumers.

Baucus and Conrad introduced similar legislation in the 110th Congress. The 2009 bill enhances the focus on patients and personalized medicine. The 2009 legislation also requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to meet several requirements before allowing the use of any research, including from comparative effectiveness studies, in making coverage decisions. This transparent and iterative process includes allowing stakeholders and other individuals the opportunity to provide input and comment on draft proposals, incorporating all other relevant findings and evidence, in addition to comparative effectiveness research, and considering the impacts on patient subpopulations.