Tuesday, September 01, 2009

U.S. health reform estimates need long view: study

The Congressional Budget Office may be missing potential savings from various health reform proposals by not looking at efforts to manage or prevent expensive, chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, researchers said in a study released on Tuesday.

The nonpartisan CBO, charged by Congress to estimate the cost of various programs, now uses a 10-year forecast that cannot look at the cost of programs aimed at diseases that can last for decades, researchers at the University of Chicago said.

Instead, the CBO should use methods that would weigh savings from earlier treatment and other intervention that could help reduce costly complications from conditions that arise when left untreated or improperly treated, they said.

Lawmakers need cost estimates that look at a period of 25 years for healthcare legislation, they said in their study, which was sponsored by diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk A/S and looked at a scientific model to help estimate such costs for long-term diseases.

"Although this would not be necessary for the vast majority of cost estimates produced by the CBO, it would improve the information available when Congress considers health legislation with implications for the treatment of a relatively small number of costly chronic illnesses," they wrote.

Read it all at Reuters

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