Deborah A. Zarin, M.D., Director of the Technology Assessment Program at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality ("AHRQ"), spoke about the Medicare coverage decision making process. AHRQ is responsible for conducting impartial evaluations of scientific evidence to determine the safety, efficacy and effectiveness of new health technologies such as a new screening device or rehabilitation plan for CMS. In conducting its evaluations, AHRQ adheres to the principles of Evidence-Based Medicine which involves decision making based on the likely impact of different treatments on specific outcomes for specific populations. When coverage for a new technology is applied for (by a beneficiary, a pharmaceutical company, a medical equipment company, etc.), CMS will request AHRQ to evaluate the scientific validity and effectiveness of the technology. In making the final coverage decision, CMS relies on AHRQ's recommendations and findings to determine whether a new health technology is "reasonable and necessary." If you would like a hard copy of Dr. Zarin's presentation, please contact Jane Thorpe at Shaw Pittman (202.663.8093).
Senator Connie Mack, Senior Policy Advisor at Shaw Pittman, gave a presentation on the importance of medical research and the role of NIH. Senator Mack represented the State of Florida in the United States Congress for 18 years, including 12 years in the United States Senate where he played a leading role in economic and health care issues. A cancer survivor, he has been a strong advocate for cancer research, early detection and treatment. He led a historic bipartisan congressional effort to double funding for biomedical research through NIH and worked tirelessly to secure the necessary appropriations. In the area of medical research, Senator Mack proposed that the two areas of greatest opportunity right now are technology information sharing and a cure for colon cancer, both of which are being actively pursued at NIH. Senator Mack also expressed his support for the new Director of NIH, Dr. Elias Adam Zerhouni. Dr. Zerhouni is committed to medical research and technology and will continue the tradition of outstanding research being conducted at NIH.