Senate Finance Committee Republicans Take a Stand Against Discriminatory Health Metrics

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Senate Finance Committee Republicans, led by Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), are urging senior government health officials against the potential use of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) or other similar discriminatory metrics in federal health programs, including the new drug price-setting program under the partisan Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

In a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Committee members highlight the strong criticisms that QALYs and similar metrics have drawn from patient groups and disability rights advocates.  The senators call for the agencies to eliminate the use of QALYs and other similar metrics in federal programs, including in the implementation of the IRA’s price-setting program.

The quality-adjusted life year (QALY) is an increasingly popular measure of disease burden, with uses extending from economic evaluation to social sciences. It takes both the quality and quantity of life into account, meaning that a single QALY equates to one full year in perfect health. Most notably, QALYs are used to assess the value of medical interventions and rank their effectiveness relative to one another. This can be done by comparing QALY gains between different interventions and weighing them against their monetary costs. A tool for medical decision-makers, the concept of the QALY reportedly uses patient experience and scientific evidence together to inform healthcare policy.

You can download the Senators’ letter here.

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