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Health Care Bill Must Ensure Scientific Integrity, Groups Say
WASHINGTON - November 3 - The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today asked Congress to adopt strong transparency and accountability standards for each advisory committee created by any new health care law. UCS made its request in a letter signed by 20 consumer, labor, health, scientific integrity, transparency, journalism, taxpayer and public interest groups and delivered to the chairs of key House and Senate committees, House and Senate leaders, and other lawmakers who will negotiate a final health care bill.
"The health care proposals now under consideration by Congress must be based on the best available science and not tainted by special interests," said Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at UCS. "Science advisory committees must conduct their work openly and free from conflicts of interest. With so much at stake for every American family in any health care law, science matters."
In the letter, the groups requested that, at a minimum, any new health care law must:
- Require that all information about each advisory panel, including a full audio or video record of each panel meeting, is accessible via the Internet.
- Actively seek out advisory panel members without conflicts of interest.
- Assess financial conflicts of interest, and strive to name only non-conflicted experts to advisory committees.
- When conflicts are unavoidable, require that any waivers given to a conflicted advisory board member and the reasons for granting the waiver are part of the public record.
- Specifically require disclosure of the names and backgrounds of each member, and whether they are serving as experts or to represent particular constituencies.
Groups signing on to the letter include: American Federation of Government Employees, Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, Center for Inquiry, Center for Medical Consumers, Center for Responsive Politics, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Government Accountability Project, iSolon.org, Knowledge Ecology International, National Taxpayers Union, OMB Watch, OpenTheGovernment.org, Our Bodies Ourselves, Progressive Librarians Guild, Project On Government Oversight, Public Citizen, Society of Professional Journalists, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.