Washington, DC. – With the process of crafting health care reform legislation underway before the Senate Finance Committee, Committee Member Idaho Senator Mike Crapo says doctors must maintain their critical role in leading health care decision-making. Crapo is co-sponsoring the PATIENTS (Preserving Access to Targeted, Individualized, and Effective New Treatments and Services) Act of 2009, which has been introduced by fellow Committee member Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).

The PATIENTS Act would protect the critical doctor-patient relationship on health care decisions, ensuring that patients, not Washington bureaucrats, can decide the best course for medical care. The Act would ensure that comparative effectiveness research, which is often used to determine the clinical effectiveness of a given procedure, does not result in the rationing of health care, which has been criticized in government-run health care systems in other countries. The bill has been endorsed by the American Medical Association.

“The PATIENTS Act is a necessary safeguard, especially as the Finance Committee considers the Administration’s plans for a so-called ‘government option’ for health care insurance,” Crapo said. “That option would be a new government insurance company, paid for by taxpayers. Most importantly, private market insurers would be forced to compete with this new government plan, with prices and rates set by the government.

“This creates problems for coverage and cost. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that some recent health reform proposals could cost more than $1 trillion over the next decade, but cover only 16 million new Americans because most will move from other programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, or from employer-sponsored insurance. When you consider the costs, plus the questions over rationing and government control of health decisions, it is clear we need proposals like the PATIENTS Act to be debated here in Congress,” he added.

The PATIENTS Act of 2009 would prohibit the government from using cost arguments to deny care ordered by a doctor. In introducing the legislation, Crapo, Kyl, McConnell and others have pointed out Britain’s health care system last year denied patients in that country access to four kidney cancer drugs that might have prolonged their lives.