One of the more radical proposals of Tom Daschle, incoming head of the Health and Human Services, is a governmental organization to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of medical treatments. In Britain, a similar organization, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), is charged with deciding which treatments the British National Health Service will pay for and which it will not. NICE considers a treatment cost-effective only if the cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) is £20,000 or less (about $35,000). The result is that many advanced cancer treatments (and other therapies) available in the United States and on the European continent are judged too costly and not available to patients in Britain.
Study here [gated, but with abstract].