Health highlights Thursday


Healthcare experts Thursday will continue to examine comparative effectiveness strategies at an all-day forum in Washington hosted by the National Pharmaceutical Council and America’s Health Insurance Plans, among others. Comparative effectiveness -- a system of studying various treatments for the same illness to learn which work best -- is seen as a promising way to reduce wasteful spending in the healthcare sector. (AHIP is a strong supporter because insurers don’t want to pay any more claims than they have to.) But there are also concerns that some treatments, drugs, devices etc. -- found to be ineffective for most -- might become unavailable a smaller population that find them beneficial. (The pharmaceutical industry is wary of comparative effectiveness.) 

On hand will be Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation; Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; and Gail Wilensky, senior fellow at Project HOPE/Health Affairs. 

Meanwhile, a new study lends good reason behind all the discussion over healthcare reform: The United States, the Commonwealth Fund found, ranks last in healthcare quality relative to other developing nations.

“As an American it just bothers me that with all of our know-how, all of our wealth, that we are not assuring that people who need healthcare can get it," Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund said Wednesday.