• Context is super important. Managed care plans run by insurance companies have been coming between patients and their doctors for years, dictating which drugs and treatments they will pay for and which ones they won’t, based on their own research into costs and benefits plus their own profit goals. Government research and recommendations presumably would be more neutral and free from any profit motives.

That point was driven home to me the same day the CNN segment aired. I saw my eye doctor pleading with an insurer to let one of his patients have a brand name glaucoma medication. She was allergic to the lower cost drugs they were insisting on. Shaking his head, he said: “This happens all the time.”

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.