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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ObamaCare's Ministry of Silly Walks

    One provision of the 2,800 page Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act was the establishment of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.  The law established funding for the institute for 10 years after which Congress would have to reauthorize it.  The funding is explained as follows on the PCORI website:
For FY 2010, $10 million
For FY 2011, $50 million
For FY 2012, $150 million
For FY 2013, the PCORTF will receive $150 million from the general fund in appropriation plus an annual $1 fee per individual assessed on Medicare and private health insurance and self-insured plans. The combined estimated total is $320 million.
For FYs 2014-2019, the PCORTF will receive $150 million from the general fund in appropriation plus an annual $2 fee per individual assessed on Medicare and private health insurance and self-insured plans and an adjustment for increase in healthcare spending. The combined estimated total averages $650 million per year.
    So with a combination of money from federal government general funds and fees imposed per insured individual, the Institute will be receiving $650 million per year by 2014. (Using Congress's meaningless and arbitrary "10 year" metric, this makes $4.4 billion.)  What are taxpayers and the insured getting for their money?  Here's how the PCORI website describes what it is all about [emphasis added]:
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is authorized by Congress to conduct research to provide information about the best available evidence to help patients and their health care providers make more informed decisions. PCORI’s research is intended to give patients a better understanding of the prevention, treatment and care options available, and the science that supports those options.
    Got that?  Research for information about evidence for decisions.  OK, a bit vague?  Not to worry.  There's a further section describing the mission and vision of PCORI:
Mission
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) helps people make informed health care decisions, and improves health care delivery and outcomes, by producing and promoting high integrity, evidence-based information that comes from research guided by patients, caregivers and the broader health care community. 
    Help people make decisions with evidence-based information from research.  See what they did there?  Same words... but in reverse! The clarity is blinding!  And the vision?
Vision
Patients and the public have the information they need to make decisions that reflect their desired health outcomes.
     Research and evidence are simply jettisoned completely here with only information and decisions surviving.

    PCORI is a fairly young organization and may yet show its long-term value in unexpected ways [as may ObamaCare, but who really still believes that?]  But if the output of this Institute is as vague and ill-defined as the organization's own mission and vision, Congress will have simply added one more hole to its taxpayer-funded bag of money.

Note: For those unfamiliar with the meaning of the title of this post, see here.

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