- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The editorial “Health ‘efficiency’ can be deadly” (Feb. 11) grossly misleads about two health components of the economic recovery package - health information technology and comparative effectiveness research - that are critically important for improving the quality of health care for Americans of all ages.

It’s important not to confuse these two provisions. Comparative effectiveness research - a wonky term that means giving doctors and patients the ability to compare different kinds of treatments to find out which work best for different patients - has existed for decades and has widespread support from doctors and consumers. This research could save lives by giving doctors and patients better, more objective information to make important health care choices.

Health information technology is important because it gives health providers and patients real-time information that can reduce errors, save time and improve care. The health-information-technology funding in this economic recovery package will help establish a system focused on two things: setting standards to make sure different systems in doctors’ offices are compatible with one another and protecting patient privacy. Until those standards exist, hospitals and doctors won’t modernize, and health IT will not advance.

AARP and the American College of Physicians would strongly oppose any attempt to limit any doctor or hospital from providing the best possible care to any patient. So it is especially galling that this editorial would present these two solutions as part of a plan to cut off care for older Americans. Then to invoke Nazi Germany is unconscionable.

We are confident that the American people will see through this fear-mongering propaganda. We can’t let the same scare tactics that have stopped health reform in the past stop it again.

BILL NOVELLI

CEO

AARP

DR. JOHN TOOKER

Executive vice president and CEO

American College of Physicians

Washington

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