CLINICAL TRIALS: HMOs to Pay Costs for Routine Care
Health plans will pay some of the costs of care for members who participate in National Institutes of Health-sponsored clinical trials, under a deal reached by the NIH and the American Association of Health Plans. The move comes after years of opposition from HMOs, but the New York Times reports that "[w]ith about half of all Americans now in some type of managed care, this refusal threatened to become a major hindrance to biomedical research, even as scientists said they were entering a golden age of medical discovery." Under the deal, health plans will pay for routine patient care for patients in NIH-sponsored clinical trials as long as the costs "are not substantially higher" than those for standard care. Researchers will use grant money to cover the extra costs of equipment, additional monitoring of patient health and data compilation and analysis. Dr. Lee Newcomer, chief medical officer for United Healthcare Corp., which has agreed to allow its cancer patients to participate in trials sponsored by the Coalition of National Cancer Cooperative Groups, said, "My intuition, my guess, is that this will not add to our costs, but that's the reason we are doing these studies, to find out whether there are added costs" (Pear, 2/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.