Spending of $1.1 billion to evaluate the most effective health care treatments is included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2008, which was proposed yesterday by Democrats on the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations.

Over the next two weeks, Congress will consider the Bill, which the legislators describe as “the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3-4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century.” The Bill’s vast range includes $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in “thoughtful and carefully-targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in,” they say, adding that it will “strengthen the middle class, not just Wall Street CEOs and special interests in Washington.”

The health care component of the Bill, which seeks to save “not only jobs, but money and lives” and “help reduce health care costs by billions of dollars in each year,” proposes: - $1.1 billion for healthcare research and quality programs to compare the effectiveness of different medical treatments funded by Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). “Finding out what works best and educating patients and doctors will improve treatment and save taxpayers money,” say the legislators; - $20 billion to jumpstart efforts to computerize health records to cut costs and reduce medical errors; and - $3 billion to fight preventable chronic and infectious diseases. “Preventing disease rather than treating illnesses is the most effective way to reduce healthcare costs,” they say.

Under the section Transforming our Economy with Science and Technology, the Bill also proposes: - $2 billion for National Institutes of Health (NIH) biomedical research, including $1.5 billion for expanding “good jobs in biomedical research” to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and heart disease, and $500 million to implement the repair and improvement strategic plan developed by the NIH for its campuses; - $1.5 billion for the NIH to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants; and - $900 million to prepare for pandemic influenza, support advanced development of medical countermeasures for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, and for cyber security protections at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS.)

Reuters reports Ken Johnson, senior vice president at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), as stating that the industry group would examine the panel’s proposals, but also cautioning that any legislation must avoid “delaying or denying patient access to beneficial care, as often happens in Europe.”