The House of Representatives last week approved a bill that would ban the use of “quality-adjusted life years,” or QALYs, as well as other measures for determining the purported value of a medical intervention, in all federal health programs. Now the Senate will consider the measure.
QALYs should have no place in federal decision-making about whether to cover a drug or medical procedure. Their primary purpose is to give the government cover for denying access to treatment — especially for seniors and disabled people.
Researchers use QALYs to estimate the number of years a treatment could add to a patient’s life, while also taking the assumed “quality” of those years into account. Quality is typically based on a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities without mental disturbance or pain.