Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Proposes Payer-Funded Institute to Evaluate What Medical Treatments Work Best
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies Would Provide Financial Support
WASHINGTON, May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) today called upon Congress to enact legislation to establish a new, independent institute -- funded by all healthcare payers -- to provide consumers and providers with much needed information on which medical treatments work best. This proposal is an important component of a multi-pronged strategy BCBSA will be announcing in the coming months to improve healthcare value and quality for consumers. It is estimated that up to 30 percent of healthcare spending pays for ineffective, inappropriate or redundant care. As policymakers debate how best to reform our healthcare system, BCBSA believes it is critical to start by developing the knowledge base to empower patients and providers with credible information to ensure the delivery of appropriate and timely care. Under BCBSA's proposal, the institute would support research comparing the effectiveness of new and existing medical procedures, drugs, devices, and biologics. The institute would support a broad range of research, including much- needed clinical trials, and be governed by a board representing stakeholders in the government and private sector. The most significant barrier to creating a new institute is establishing a significant and stable funding source. BCBSA proposes funding the institute by assessing all private (insured and self-funded) and public healthcare coverage such as Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs. BCBSA, as a leading provider of healthcare coverage to more than 98 million people, is prepared to contribute substantial financial support to the initiative. "Credible information on what treatment works best holds the most promise for improving the value and quality of our system," said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA president and CEO. "Today, patients often are paying for sub-optimal care. This institute is an important step to assuring that we are providing the best incentives to deliver the best care." To ensure the new research improves clinical practice, significant education and incentives will be needed. BCBSA recommends that the new comparative information be quickly and efficiently disseminated to providers, patients, and others, and that the research results be incorporated into clinical practice guidelines through close collaboration with medical societies. "New research on the effectiveness of different treatments offers promise in addressing many significant issues including access to care and affordable coverage, improving healthcare quality and safety, and increasing transparency and accountability," said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. "I'm pleased that the institute will translate its research into language that consumers can understand. Consumers need this kind of information so that together with their providers, they can make more informed decisions about their healthcare." Another important element of the proposal calls for physicians who rely on practice guidelines established through the institute's research to be given safe harbor for non-economic and punitive damages when faced with claims of medical malpractice. "The institute would close critical gaps in our medical understanding of the efficacy of certain treatments and, in the end, improve the quality of care for America," said Dr. John Fallon, chief physician executive, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. "Collaboration among key stakeholders, including providers and consumers, will be essential to the success of this effort." A summary of the proposal and more information can be found online at http://www.bcbs.com/issues/transparency/. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is made up of 39 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 98 million -- nearly one-in-three -- Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit http://www.BCBS.com. Quotes in Support of Comparative Effectiveness Research "Comparative clinical effectiveness research is crucial to moving toward a high quality, high value health care system. Doctors and patients need more credible evidence of what works best when they make treatment decisions. I believe more investment in this research in the U.S. will help curb the growth in costs across the health care system by giving doctors and patients information they need to choose the right care at the right time. Congress should move this year on this important issue. I welcome ideas, like the proposal put forth by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, to move this valuable research forward." U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) "I applaud the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association for their leadership in promoting the creation of a comparative effectiveness institute. This initiative will go a long way to address the rising cost of healthcare and benefit consumers with increased patient safety and quality outcomes." U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) "Researching the most effective treatments, drugs and devices will improve patient outcomes and could help lead to lower healthcare costs. The new comparative effectiveness institute proposed by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association will fill this critical knowledge gap and promote higher quality and more cost-effective treatments for all Americans." Newt Gingrich, founder, Center for Health Transformation and former Speaker of the House
SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
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