Today, the US Supreme Court ruled to uphold President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a 5-4 vote.
This includes the controversial provision requiring uninsured people to buy health insurance or face a penalty. On this so called ‘individual mandate,’ Chief Justice John Roberts writes [pdf]:
Those subject to the individual mandate may lawfully forgo health insurance and pay higher taxes, or buy health insurance and pay lower taxes. The only thing they may not lawfully do is not buy health insurance and not pay the resulting tax.
With the law upheld, the following provisions relevant to biomedical research and commercialization are preserved, Nature News explains:
Because teaching hospitals at academic medical centers provide a disproportionate amount of charity care, lawmakers reasoned that, with an insurance mandate in place, they will begin to be paid for that care, allowing the government to recoup the $153 billion.
And just a bit more on PCORI… it goes back to the question, what kind of care patients would receive with their insurance? New Scientist explains.
Evidence-based medicine is when medical procedures are performed because there is good scientific evidence that they can make a difference. Many standard practices – like annual physicals – are largely unjustified, but they’re performed because of a pay structure that incentivizes physicians to offer more tests and procedures.
So the plan is to use ‘comparative effectiveness research’ to assess how useful common medical practices really are: comparing 2 similar drugs or 2 different methods, like surgery and a drug. PCORI will target areas lacking solid scientific knowledge and fund projects to help clarify which methods are the most effective and how patient care in those areas can be improved.
[Via Nature News, New Scientist, Scientific American]
Image: Public Law
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com