GAO announces appointments to comparative-effectiveness board

The Government Accountability Office on Thursday announced the appointment of the 19 board members of the center for comparative-effectiveness research created by the healthcare reform law.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is tasked with carrying out research projects to ascertain the best medical treatments. The provision was one of the most controversial aspects of the health reform debate, with critics worrying that it could lead to rationing if researchers recommend low-cost treatments that could be well-suited for most but not all patients.

Democrats tried to address those concerns by opting for a private non-profit institute instead of the government-run option in the House bill. To combat "death panel" allegations, the bill also prohibits the use of comparative effectiveness research findings "in a manner that treats extending the life of an elderly, disabled, or terminally ill individual as of lower value than extending the life of an individual who is younger, nondisabled, or not terminally ill."

Members serve staggered six-year terms, and can be reappointed once. The Comptroller General appoints 19 members; the directors of the Agency for Healthcare Research and the National Institutes of Health - or their designees - also serve on the board.

Commissioners whose first term will expire in September 2016:

_ Eugene Washington, dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles. Washington will serve as chair of the board of governors;

_ Steven Lipstein, President and Chief Executive Officer of BJC Health Care. Lipstein will serve as vice-chair; 

_ Christine Goertz, Vice Chancellor for Research and Health Policy at the Palmer College of Chiropractic and Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research;

_ Sharon Levine, Associate Executive Director for The Permanente Medical Group of Northern California;

_ Ellen Sigal, chair and founder of Friends of Cancer Research;

_ Harlan Weisman, Chief Science and Technology Officer for Medical Devices and Diagnostics at Johnson & Johnson;

_ Robert Zwolak, vascular surgeon at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and professor of surgery at the Dartmouth Medical School.

Commissioners whose first term will expire in September 2014:

_ Lawrence Becker, director of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances at the Xerox Corporation; 

_ Arnold Epstein, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard University School of Public Health;

_ Andrew Imparato, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of People with Disabilities;

_ Robert Jesse, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health and National Program Director for Cardiology at the Department of Veterans Affairs;

_ Freda Lewis-Hall, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of the Pfizer Medical Division;

_ Grayson Norquist, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Commissioners whose first term will expire in September 2012:

_ Debra Barksdale, Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill School of Nursing;

_ Kerry Barnett, Executive Vice President of Corporate Services and Chief Legal Officer for The Regence Group;

_ Allen Douma, Chief Executive Officer of Empower, LLC, and a member of the AARP Board of Directors;

_ Leah Hole-Curry, Program Director for the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) program at the Washington State Health Care Authority;

_ Harlan Krumholz, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University School of Medicine;

_ Richard E. Kuntz, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific, Clinical, and Regulatory Officer at Medtronic, Inc.

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