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Rodgers, Banks, & Wenstrup Lead QALY Ban to Affirm Every Person’s Life has Value


04.28.22

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, House Energy and Commerce Republican Leader and Republican Study Committee Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, RSC Chairman Jim Banks, and RSC Member and GOP Doctors Caucus Co-Chair Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M, introduced The Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act, important legislation that would expand access to life saving cures and prevent discrimination against Americans with disabilities.

House Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers said: “When the government uses QALYs it means a health care bureaucracy can coldly and mercilessly determine someone’s life is worth less. Countries that use them discriminate against people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, including people with cystic fibrosis, ALS, and people like my son Cole who has Down syndrome. The most vulnerable are sent to the back of the line for treatment because the government says their lives aren’t valuable enough for care. Today, we’re introducing this legislation as warriors for human dignity to stop the use of QALYs and affirm that every person’s life has value. This builds on our work on the Energy and Commerce Committee to stop Speaker Pelosi’s socialist price controls and the dangerous consequences of the Left’s agenda for government-run health care.”

RSC Chairman Jim Banks said: “Republicans belong to the party of life. This includes all life, from conception to natural death. Our important legislation promotes the dignity and value of each human being by ensuring that government bureaucrats can’t arbitrarily decide that some lives have more value than others.

As Democrats continue to push a socialist ideology that has no regard for the most vulnerable, it is more important than ever for House Republicans to permanently end this harmful metric.”

GOP Doctors Caucus Co-Chair Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. said: “As a physician, I took an oath to treat each patient as a human being first. Unfortunately, QALY measurements put a dollar value on a person’s life, interfering with the sacred duty of a physician to care for all of their patients with the dignity they deserve.”

“I’m proud to join my colleagues, Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks, to make sure the government can never determine how much your life is worth in order to ration or deny health care.”

Background:

The legislation would prohibit the use of quality adjusted life years (QALYs) in all Federal programs. Presently, this prohibition only applies narrowly to Medicare.

The controversial metric intentionally devalues treatments for disabled individuals and those with chronic illnesses for purposes of determining whether the treatment is cost-effective enough to be covered. The use of QALYs is a clear form of discrimination. The bill would also prohibit the importation of price-controls from countries that use QALYs, which are a socialist trademark of government-run health insurance programs.

A ban on the usage of QALYs by the federal government was supported by the National Council on Disability as part of the Council’s 2022 Health Equity Framework.

The Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act is supported by Heritage Action, Alliance for Aging Research, National Right to Life Committee, Family Research Council, and Students for Life Action.

What They’re Saying:

“The quality-adjusted life year (QALY) devalues the lives of older adults, people with disabilities and chronic conditions, and communities of color. The National Council on Disability has repeatedly warned against the use of QALYs in healthcare decision making because it would undermine major U.S. disability and civil rights laws, including the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Sue Peschin, MHS, President and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research. “Despite the obvious negative impacts on health equity, payers—including private insurers, the Veterans Administration, and state Medicaid agencies—are increasingly utilizing QALY-based cost-effectiveness analyses from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) to ration access for FDA-approved treatments. It is time for these harmful practices to stop. The Alliance applauds Energy & Commerce Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers, RSC Chairman Jim Banks, and Doc Caucus Chairman Rep. Brad Wenstrup for their leadership on the introduction of the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act of 2022 and urges Congress to pass this vital legislation.”

Roger Severino, EPPC Senior Fellow and former Director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS said: “We must reject systems that weigh individuals according to subjective quality of life standards and denies treatments for those that supposedly don’t measure up because of disabilities. Respect for equal human dignity requires no less.”

Jennifer Popik, Director of Federal Legislation at the National Right to Life Committee said: “National Right to Life applauds Reps. Banks, Wenstrup, and McMorris Rogers for introducing the “Protecting Health Care For All Patients Act.” This legislation would prevent the use of Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) or similar metrics in health coverage. QALYs are an inherently discriminatory system of rationing used to assess a person’s anticipated lifespan and whether treatment will be “cost effective.” QALYs apply a score to a person’s health and penalize a person who has a disability. QALYs are being used by some health care systems and payers to determine whether a patient who is judged – by others – to have a “diminished quality of life” should receive health care coverage. National Right to Life strongly supports this life-affirming, dignity-enhancing legislation.”

“Using subjective standards like Quality Adjusted Life Years to make decisions about medical treatment is discriminatory and suggests that the lives of people living with disabilities are less valuable than the lives of those not living with disabilities. FRC is grateful for Congress’s work to ensure that every person is treated with the dignity and respect—especially when facing decisions about medical care.” said Mary Szoch, Director of the Center for Human Dignity, Family Research Council. 

“In order to ensure Americans with disabilities aren’t discriminated against, it’s imperative that the federal government maintains its prohibition on the use of quality-adjusted life years. The value of providing treatment to an individual shouldn’t be quantified by bureaucrats and Americans should have the ability to choose the treatment that best suits their needs. We applaud Reps. Banks, Wenstrup, and McMorris Rodgers for leading the charge to ensure this discriminatory practice is never used by the federal government,” said Garrett Bess, Vice President of Heritage Action 

“As the mother of a child with a disability, I’m deeply disturbed by the federal government’s use of QALY; it is a dehumanizing methodology that discriminates against the elderly and sickest among us. I’ve seen how life-saving drugs that help fight my daughter’s cystic fibrosis have been denied in other countries because government bureaucrats have deemed it “too costly.” That is unacceptable and will lead us on a path toward socialized medicine. Thankfully, this legislation will help provide access to care that Americans deserve and send an important moral statement that our nation cares for our most vulnerable,” said Mary Vought, a disability advocate.

Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life Action & Students for Life of America said: “Advocates of socialized medicine have used deadly formulas to decide who lives and who dies, including people like my children who have genetic conditions that will require care for them to thrive. Allowing such formulas to have power in American healthcare creates a profit dynamic that puts a price tag on everyone, determining whether an individual can earn enough to make it worth it to save their life. These formulas are already abused where they are in force, denying people the help they need. Their use leads to the destruction of compassion and service in healthcare as well as creating a dangerous risk for all of us because as at some point, everyone will come to the end of their days as an employee. Being weak, disabled, or in need of regular care should not be an automatic death sentence at the hands of a cost-cutting bureaucrat with a calculator.”

Press Release