Rationing healthcare is never worth it | Opinion

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By Sue Peschin

The state of Alabama recently decided to take down its dated criteria on ventilator rationing that “allegedly discriminated against the disabled and elderly.” The criteria apparently allowed people with “profound mental retardation” and “moderate to severe dementia” to be denied ventilators.

While Alabama’s decision should be applauded, let’s not forget another organization that’s been promoting health care rationing since long before the coronavirus crisis hit.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) creates cost analysis reports that are used to limit the number of treatments health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers will cover.

ICER’s flawed methodology for deciding a treatment’s worth doesn’t take into account the input of patients, doctors, and numerous other factors. Therefore, drugs that often help a smaller pool of patients or an older population can be deemed not worth it by ICER. This greatly limits access to potentially life saving treatments for the most vulnerable patients.

During this public health crisis especially, we must remember there are real consequences to valuing one life over another. Not only is it unethical, but what we do in the throes of a crisis will set a precedent for what we do when it’s done.

Sue Peschin is president and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research in Washington, D.C.