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U.S. Government to Seek Answers to Health-Care Questions

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Should birth control pills be available over the counter? What's the best way to treat back pain? Should people with irregular heartbeats have surgery or take a drug?

The U.S. government plans to spend more than $1 billion to find the answers to questions such as those, according to an Associated Press report.

The money is part of the economic stimulus plan, specifically aimed at figuring out the so-called comparative effectiveness of various treatments, tests and strategies related to health care. The idea is to give doctors better information as to what's best for a particular patient and to give patients more ammunition to become active, informed participants in their health-care decisions, the AP said.

The questions released Tuesday came from the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, and included its top 100 priorities for study. The $1.1 billion set aside for the project would cover only a fraction of the research required to obtain answers, the AP reported.

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