House Stimulus Bill

There’s a lot of health care spending in the House economic stimulus bill (HR 1). There are the significant COBRA changes (Section 3002) that I discussed in last weekend’s update and this Business Insurance article. There are many changes to the HIPAA privacy and security rules (beginning at Section 4401), including a new nationwide privacy breach notice requirement. Also the bill (Sec. 9902) would create a federal panel known as the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research to

(1) assist the offices and agencies of the Federal Government, including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Defense, and other Federal departments or agencies, to coordinate the conduct or support of comparative effectiveness and related health services research; and(2) advise the President and Congress on–(A) strategies with respect to the infrastructure needs of comparative effectiveness research within the Federal Government;(B) appropriate organizational expenditures for comparative effectiveness research by relevant Federal departments and agencies; and(C) opportunities to assure optimum coordination of comparative effectiveness and related health services research conducted or supported by relevant Federal departments and agencies, with the goal of reducing duplicative efforts and encouraging coordinated and complementary use of resources.

This new panel reminds me of the Blue Cross Association’s recommendation that Congress pass a law creating an institute

“that would support research comparing the effectiveness of new and existing procedures, drugs, devices, and biologics based on four key principles:

  1. funding should be ensured by asking all payers – government and private – to contribute;
  2. the Institute should support a broad range of research, especially clinical trials;
  3. significant education programs and incentives are needed; and
  4. the new Institute should be governed by a board with both public and private representation.”

Membership in the new Council would be limited to federal officials and employees, but it would be funded by the taxpayers. In the end, the new Council bears the most similarity to the Federal Health Board advocated by HHS Secretary designate Tom Daschle.