The first person to speak in response to Kernan was BIO head Jim Greenwood. Jim carefully explained the biotech position, explaining an alternative viewpoint with respect to exclusivity. Greenwood explained that the question is how quickly after biotech companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to innovate are others allowed to enter the market and copy their data and work so they can sell on their own. This is a very interesting, and compelling, way to frame the debate. Rather than focus on exclusive rights and the dreaded “monopoly” protection that so many people hate, the quest is how quickly can those that do not innovate copy the information and research that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to come up with in the first place.
Greenwood went on to say: “above all else, you have to make sure the incentives for innovation remain.” Kernan responded by pointing out that the biotech community is open for criticism due to the costs associated with providing life saving treatments and therapies. Specifically, Kernan said: “it just seems like you are a poster child for the exorbitant costs of treatment and maybe some of the costs we shouldn’t be undertaking and we have to judge where to spend the money.” And people wonder why throughout the health care debate the public has been fighting so hard, despite the erroneous and scandalous labels hurled at ordinary citizens who simply want answers and know the government is lying about so much. Here, Kernan defines the problem as should we be undertaking the cost of exorbitant treatments? Despite what President Obama and his team say, and despite what Democrats in Congress say, the truth is that the overwhelming majority of health care costs come at the end of life, and the only way to lower costs is to ration care at the end of life, as was suggested by Kernan.
To say there will be no rationing if the government is involved is intellectually dishonest, ignores the realities of countries that have government run health care and is not what the great majority of Americans want. Americans want innovation in all aspects of life, and no where is that more evident than in health care. Ordinary Americans understand that if you want life saving treatments and drugs there needs to be scientific advances and breakthroughs, and such innovation costs money.
Returning to this interview, Greenwood justified what are large costs for life saving treatments by pointing out the simple truth that “most of the products we try and build fail, and you build in those costs.” He then went on to say: “We are not afraid of competition, but if the competition comes too soon no one will invest the billions of dollars that it takes to make a new drug and there won’t be anything for the generic companies to copy at the end of the day anyway.”
This lead Kernan to ask a fundamentally important question about what evidence exists to suggest that countries without strong intellectual property rights suffer from a lack of innovation. In this regard, Kernan asked: “Has there been a loss of innovation in Europe because of not protecting patents?” Greenwood pointed out that Europeans used to control the biotechnology world. Thompson then chimed in that Europe used to lead in pharmaceuticals as well. Thompson then said “50-60% of drugs used to be produced over in Europe, but now75-80% of research is now done in the United States.”
Gottlieb then chimed in that the biotechnology industry is winning the debate on the facts and merits. Greenwood then explained that in the past the biotechnology industry had fought any forms of competition, but now biotech is not at all afraid of competition. In an incredulous tone that suggested he was not understanding anything that was being said, Kernan asked: “How is 12 years of exclusivity not fighting competition?” Apparently, Kernan and his like would rather not have any life saving drugs or treatments at all. As idiotic as it sounds, there are actually people who believe the world is better off without ANY life saving drugs and treatments if those drugs and treatments cannot be shared with everyone on every economic and social level the minute they are created. Such a position ignores economic reality and defys common sense, unless of course you have the government replace the hundreds of billions of dollars in research and development money that goes into this single sector of the economy, which was actually raised by Kernan who said “can’t the government innovate?” Greenwood’s pithy comeback was “when has the government innovated?” Score 1 for Greenwood. Not sure what the score it at this point, but from my perspective the panel is pitching a no hitter against Kernan, who continues to give up the long-ball.
Before leaving this point about the government innovating instead of the private sector, allow me to point out that this is the same government that will very soon bankrupt social security and medicare with a ponzi-like accounting scheme. Why would anyone want a short-sighted government run by individuals who largely only want to be re-elected to be in charge of research and development? Newsflash! That was tried and didn’t work. It is called communism and has failed everywhere it has been tried. Even the “free” socialism or “democratic” socialism that is practiced in much of Europe is not succeeding. When the French are trying to get away from a health care system that looks much like what is being proposed and move closer to an American system, why should we in America who already have an American system want to look more like the French? Can you tell I am frustrated?
Greenwood also brought up another excellent point, and one that likely did convince some in Congress who would ordinarily have been persuaded by the President. Greenwood said: “I keep telling all my liberal friends in the Congress — If you want to cure all these diseases that you say you do… don’t you want this industry to be the biggest, private sector at risk capital money magnet in the world?” Thompson then explained: “It takes 1.2 billion and 12 years to get a drug to the marketplace.” So those who believe that revolutionary treatments and drugs should be available immediately to everyone you need to check the facts. Government over-regulation of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals raises costs and keeps treatments tied up unnecessarily.
I think everyone should spend the 12 minutes necessary to watch this interview. If you do, and you have an open mind, you will be convinced that if we do want cures for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other diseases that bring unspeakable hardships, we need to encourage innovation not stand in the way of innovation. How supposedly knowledgeable co-anchor for a supposed flagship economic program could not understand the importance of innovation and the economic realities shows either that he doesn’t get it, or perhaps that NBC no longer is interested in facts and truth even when it comes to financial and economic news. Either way, it is very sad indeed.
Join the Discussion
26 comments so far.
AdamAugust 20, 2009 01:46 pm
I apologize for putting words in your mouth. I should’ve just asked my question and not tried to answer it myself. Pretend I ended my comment with “Pooling resources in each case is a necessity for some and not for others, so why would you set them up as being in two separate categories?”
Gene QuinnAugust 20, 2009 11:47 am
You said: “I wonder if you think “welfare” is anything the government gives people that you don’t personally need, and “legitimate government” is what the government gives people that you directly benefit from.”
Why you continue to try and twist what I say is beyond me, and really quite unbecoming. I have no problems with vigorous debate, but I will not tolerate the tried and true liberal tactic of grossly misrepresenting and twisting. If that is the game you like to play, please go elsewhere.
AdamAugust 19, 2009 10:49 pm
“Nevertheless, I choose not to continue debating with folks who do know the facts, the truth and make things up as they go along.”
I certainly haven’t purposefully misrepresented any facts above, but you don’t know me, so I suppose it could be reasonable to assume that I am well-informed and acting in bad faith. If you did know me, you wouldn’t suggest that, but that’s one of the limitations of the Internet, I suppose.
On the other side of that coin, it’s obvious that some people have the resources to acquire private police forces, build private roads, and hire judges. Conversely, other people don’t have the resources to acquire health care. Pooling resources in each case is a necessity for some and not for others, so why would you set them up as being in two separate categories? I wonder if you think “welfare” is anything the government gives people that you don’t personally need, and “legitimate government” is what the government gives people that you directly benefit from. That’s a perfectly reasonable position to have, since it ends up optimizing government action for your personal benefit. It just doesn’t seem very equitable or compassionate to me.
Gene QuinnAugust 19, 2009 06:50 pm
You are naive beyond words. You really need to do your research and figure out who pays and how much they pay in America. The bottom 50% of people pay nothing, or virtually nothing and will continue to pay virtually nothing moving forward.
Nevertheless, I choose not to continue debating with folks who do know the facts, the truth and make things up as they go along. But before I go, one final thought… I never said the police and courts were welfare. They are not. That is the justified role of government to do what we as individuals cannot do or acquire on our own and need to pool together to receive. That was the idea of the Founding Fathers. So police and courts are very different than handing out health insurance, or medical coverage, which ARE things that people can do for themselves. I don’t expect you to understand that though.
AdamAugust 19, 2009 05:39 pm
“Everyone knows they will not pay”
This is clearly false. Many people are hopeful that improvements can be made that make financial sense. If you assume that whatever system we create will be subverted by the people it’s trying to help, then obviously no improvement can ever be made.
“But when you take from tax payers to provide services for those who do not pay taxes that is welfare.”
Then roads and courts and police are indeed welfare.
“Why is France trying to move toward a more American model if socialized medicine is so good? Why are the leaders of Canada admitting that their health care system is broken and needs to be fixed?”
I think this is a great question, though incomplete. The complete question is, “If America, Canada, and France all want health care reform, why would we use the systems of any those countries?”
Gene QuinnAugust 19, 2009 04:32 pm
You say: “First, no one is currently suggesting that currently uninsured people would be “given” health care. The “public option” being discussed is a traditional insurance pool, but one run as a government non-profit organization instead of a private corporation.”
Reply: That is exactly what they are saying. If what you were saying were right that would just mean that the government would supplant private companies and collect premiums from the 47 million without insurance and force them to pay. Everyone knows they will not pay, and that those who pay taxes will have to pay more taxes to pay for many in that 47 million who pay no taxes. So on this point you are wrong.
You say: “Second, just because the government provides a service, doesn’t mean it’s welfare.”
Reply: Very true. But when you take from tax payers to provide services for those who do not pay taxes that is welfare.
You say: “the existence of the program will cause waste reduction in the system as a whole.”
Reply: This is just naive.
You say: “we already have rationing, so that would be nothing new.”
Reply: Yes we do, the difference is that under the Obama plan those who pay 90% of the taxes get screwed and have to pay for the 47 million to have insurance, and on top of that, for the privilege of paying into Czar Obama’s plan they get to receive less care and longer waits.
Answer me this: Why is France trying to move toward a more American model if socialized medicine is so good? Why are the leaders of Canada admitting that their health care system is broken and needs to be fixed? Why would we knowingly want to adopt something that hasn’t worked everywhere it has been tried?
AdamAugust 19, 2009 04:08 pm
I’m certainly not being intentionally dense. I still don’t think welfare is relevant to the discussion.
“If the government gives them health care that is a welfare program by definition.”
First, no one is currently suggesting that currently uninsured people would be “given” health care. The “public option” being discussed is a traditional insurance pool, but one run as a government non-profit organization instead of a private corporation. Again, the people who need to be given health care are already getting it (Medicare and Medicaid).
Second, just because the government provides a service, doesn’t mean it’s welfare. From public roads to police departments to the court system, the government provides many services to specific individuals that everyone pays for. Most people wouldn’t have paved roads if the government didn’t give them to them, but I don’t think that makes the highway system welfare. If it does, then only the most radical Libertarians oppose welfare.
“How anyone could conclude that a government run program instituted by a bunch of Chicago politicians who are running the US will reduce waste is beyond me.”
I don’t think anyone imagines that whatever program that gets implemented will be super lean and mean. Rather, the existence of the program will cause waste reduction in the system as a whole. For example, if everyone has access to health insurance, more people will go to doctors’ offices and clinics where costs are lower, instead of waiting for an emergency and going to the Emergency Room at a hospital where the costs are much higher, but they have to be treated. Additionally, since the public option would be a non-profit organization, it may still be able to compete on price despite the bureaucratic overhead, since it doesn’t need to turn a profit.
Of course, the effects of the proposed changes on the system are extremely difficult to predict, and I don’t have the economics background to do a decent job of it. One interesting data point, though, is to compare the health care spending in the US to similar (Western, industrialized) countries:
It’s also interesting to compare the spending level with life expectancy and infant mortality rates:
And as we’ve already discussed above, we already have rationing, so that would be nothing new. Even my (really good) employer-provided health insurance has a whole list of things it won’t ever cover, no matter what. The only people who can get any medical procedure they want are the incredibly wealthy (which is actually the case for every country and system I know of).
Gene QuinnAugust 19, 2009 10:43 am
If you cannot understand how welfare and medicaid play into this discussion I doubt there is anything anyone could ever do to get you to understand. I know from past comments you make to this blog you are not stupid, so I have to conclude you are being intentionally dense for a particular purpose.
Over 47 million Americans do not have health care. If the government gives them health care that is a welfare program by definition. It is not that complicated.
How anyone could conclude that a government run program instituted by a bunch of Chicago politicians who are running the US will reduce waste is beyond me. Such thinking borders are pure insanity. Name a single government program that is not filled with waste. Medicare and Medicaid are bankrupting the country, so putting everyone on those plans is pure stupidity and ignores facts. Obama has said he wants a single payer system, and this is the first step. There will be rationing of care, just like in every other country, and the seniors who got Obama elected will soon find out that when the government needs to control costs it will be at their expense. With 80% of health care spending coming at the end of life there is but one way to cut costs. I find it mildly humorous that those seniors who voted for Obama because they couldn’t trust Republicans with health care and Social Security will be told they cannot get treatments. I guess at the end of the day you get what you ask for.
Gene QuinnAugust 19, 2009 10:36 am
I didn’t say you wanted free drugs, but there are drugs that are practically free that could save countless lives and no one seems to want to give them away. Folks always want the newest drug or treatment to be given to the masses. So it has nothing to do with doing good, it is anti-patent, anti-pharma and anti-common-sense. Without protections that allow for extremely large profits there will be no extremely large investments and there will be no new drugs for generic makers to make. Generics do nothing but copy, and if there is nothing to copy then that just means no one benefits ever.
As far as where the benefit for future generations is, the next time you go to the pharmacy and pay a few dollars for a drug ask yourself that question. Perhaps you should be amazed that the drug (1) exists in the first place and (2) that it doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars. That seems like a pretty significant benefit for this generation, and a benefit that wouldn’t have existed without past generations paying more.
New HereAugust 19, 2009 10:24 am
Well said Gene, I will end here with this by starting with a point you made above,
*”Everyone wants revolutionary drugs delivered for free or very little, to save those with the disease of the moment. What about all the drugs off patent that could be given away for pennies? The trouble is they save lives for diseases that kill people, but those diseases are not the disease of the moment, or the celebrity cause of the day.*”
it brings a question to mind, what is the point ?. Your claim that the future generations argument is not weak, I have to say different based on the fact that diseases do not go away Gene, they change in some cases and we even find we have new ones at times; so celebrity cause – disease of the moment will always be, future generations when in need will pay the money because the drug machine keeps a grind forever in need to protect every moment of the way, …I ask, what is the benefit for the rest of us?,and the benefit of the countless future generations ?. This all talks volumes of the point and direction this is going and has, in my opinion nothing to do with people or their benefit, and is more about control and the money as I believe anyone could point out a big blue spot on a white floor.
Gene, at a personal level, I want to clear up something, I never at any time made a point where anyone should get the drugs they need for free, but made a point, at a fair cost.
“– its to get something you pay for is the value I have known all my life; ”
I believe in profit as without it there is no growth.
Thanks, I’m out of here.
AdamAugust 19, 2009 10:11 am
Yes, I really am confused about how you moved to talk about welfare. It’s a complete non sequitur, as far as I can tell. We were talking about public research funding, insurance coverage, and the equitable rationing of scarce goods, all in the context of the current health care reform discussions, and you suddenly jump to talking about government handouts for the stupid and maliciously lazy.
These people are already covered by government-run health insurance, called Medicaid. The proposed healthcare reforms are not about them, they’re about the 45 million Americans who have no health insurance right now. They’re about health insurance being unavailable if you have a preexisting condition and aren’t on a group plan. They’re about premiums for individual insurance plans being so high that middle-class entrepreneurs can’t afford them. They’re about reducing waste in private health insurance companies and reducing the cost of getting health care for everyone. Welfare and Medicaid, while valid topics for discussion in general, are not related to the current healthcare reform proposals. That’s why I’m confused.
Gene QuinnAugust 19, 2009 12:19 am
Are you really confused how I moved to talk about welfare? What do you call it when people get assistance from the government? What do you call it when those of us who are energetic and motivated pay extraordinary taxes and give extraordinary benefits to those who won’t help themselves? If people need help that is one thing, but if people need help because they made bad life choices and now regret that, well that is another matter altogether.
Gene QuinnAugust 19, 2009 12:17 am
You can believe the future generations argument is weak, but is surely is not. That is what the patent system is based on, and is what all of science and math are based on. You stand on the shoulders of those who come before you. The fact that you do not like the best innovations not being available to everyone immediately does not mean it is a weak argument. This is exactly the problem with the pharma. Everyone wants revolutionary drugs delivered for free or very little, to save those with the disease of the moment. What about all the drugs off patent that could be given away for pennies? The trouble is they save lives for diseases that kill people, but those diseases are not the disease of the moment, or the celebrity cause of the day.
New HereAugust 18, 2009 01:07 pm
“So let me see if I am understanding you. Because the elderly will never benefit from generic or cheaper versions of drugs and biologics then we should simply not protect them so that they will never exist for the benefit of the rest of us, and the benefit of the countless future generations?”
If that is your understanding on first read, no,.
Gene, innovation does not stop and as we are talking about innovation there sees to be no light at the end for anyone young or old !. Bottom line point is that innovation must come every 12-14 years ?, and 12-14 years from now when the old innovation is replaced with the new, however another 12-14 years with no mention of lower cost that is not even on a back burnner, people must wait again ?. Sorry Gene, this countless future generations claim is weak in my opinion, on the fact if the latest is always on hold what difference is it to make to the countless future generations young or when old ? …please.
Gene QuinnAugust 18, 2009 12:13 pm
So let me see if I am understanding you. Because the elderly will never benefit from generic or cheaper versions of drugs and biologics then we should simply not protect them so that they will never exist for the benefit of the rest of us, and the benefit of the countless future generations?
New HereAugust 18, 2009 12:08 pm
The distractions by the over focus on deals with the Government for time in the range of 12-14 years mentioned, in my opinion fogs a critical point from view , that view is the fact such a time range for people that are as I see 70+ years of age may never see the value in the innovation do to the pure lack of availability of much needed drugs placed out of reach for I see, more important sustainable market(s) control. Open minded ?, yes I’am open minded, about ideas that are fair and not selfserving to few that profit, while Americans die for those profits by no intent of anyone !; however, intent is not evidence to make an assertion about why something is done. Such “good reasons” as one being, profit, lack examination to offer detail to challenge the claim of cost-to-innovation by those that depend upon the product the most, I feel it is most fair to have some claim to a product’s innovation when it’s my money paying for it before I see it on the market, the market, where I should see a cost that is fair to me when available !. If not, then I, if I were such a person having dependence on such products have claim to what then ? – its to get something you pay for is the value I have known all my life; innovation means nothing when you get nothing from it , in my opinion don’t look for these voters in 2010 to support the this innovation, because votes cost nothing and it is a right, to live !.
AdamAugust 17, 2009 05:16 pm
Gene, how did you get to welfare from the above discussion? You gave your description of people who can afford healthcare under our current system, and I claimed that your description was wrong.
From family farmers to students to small business owners, there are hard-working people all over this country who cannot afford health care under the current system. Until your description of the current state of affairs includes those people, then I have no choice but to recognize it as idealized and unrealistic, which is why I called it cute. Just because you and I were fortunate enough to have the ability, opportunity, and desire to become educated and enter the white-collar workforce doesn’t mean that everyone who hasn’t followed that path deserves poverty and ill health.
Gene QuinnAugust 17, 2009 04:59 pm
The fact that you think my statements regarding rationing are “cute” tells me all I need to know.
Many folks in inner cities simply do not get an education, drop out of school and make really bad decisions. If welfare were to help those who made good decisions and hit hard times I would be all for it, but welfare is primarily for folks who are lazy, dropped out of school, have lots of children despite no means to pay for them, etc. etc. Those folks should not be rewarded, and until we come to that understanding nothing will be solved.
VinceAugust 17, 2009 04:46 pm
I love Reagan’s point of view regarding socialized medicine, ten minutes.
AdamAugust 17, 2009 04:41 pm
I completely agree with this statement: “A government-private collaboration is the way to go.” Glad we see eye-to-eye on that. I don’t think that we should do without private research, I was just correcting the implication in your original post that the government has never innovated.
I would be interested in knowing how much R&D is privately funded versus how much is publicly funded, though. The latest numbers I could find are from 2006, which say that about $247 billion was spent on R&D by companies. As far as I can tell, that means private industry spent on the order of $2 on R&D for every $1 that the government spent. Does that line up with your research?
I don’t know what the best system of rationing is, but I don’t know of a good reason for it to be based on wealth. Your description of those with money as hard-working ascetics is cute, but unfortunately it’s not related to reality. There are many hard-working people who have made the best decisions available to them who cannot afford good health care, just as there are also many lazy and unwise people who can. While your vision of a meritocratic healthcare system is a nice one, we don’t have anything approaching such a system.
Gene QuinnAugust 17, 2009 03:14 pm
Unfortunately, you miss the boat again. Who put the men on the moon? NASA did with the help of private industry. A government-private collaboration is the way to go. That way the government can continue to pay pennies on the dollar in terms of the amount spent for research and development and leverage the vast amounts of private money. If you think that government innovates and spends enough to innovate then you really should do some research and get your facts straight. As much as $137 billion is, that pales in comparison to the amount spent on research and development in the private sector. So if you are satisfied with $137 billion in research then you better get used to very little innovation.
In terms of rationing, what system do you prefer? The one where ambitious people who played by the rules and denied themselves through dedication and hard work pay for those who are not ambitious, didn’t go to college, spend all their money on cigarettes and beer? People should be free to make whatever choice they want, and that includes being irresponsible and paying the consequences for bad decisions and lack of motivation.
Gene QuinnAugust 17, 2009 03:09 pm
I think you raise excellent points. There is much good that can come from health care reform. The clear way to proceed is with more competition. If Congress allowed insurance companies to sell health insurance in all 50 states (i.e., across state borders) costs would decrease over night.
I also agree with having a minimum acceptable level of health care for everyone. Going to the ER has to stop though. We should have walk-in clinics all over the country. The government could hire the staff… nurses, doctors and administrators. Those without insurance go to the clinic for at least basic care. The entry point into a hospital for those without health insurance should be through the previously mentioned clinics or through ambulance. Triage is necessary, and until we are willing to help people get basic care and stop arguing about giving everyone access to high end care we are not going to be able to accomplish anything.
Gene QuinnAugust 17, 2009 03:04 pm
Government seeds innovation by giving grants. Bayh-Dole does specifically that for universities that are savvy, which is where a lot of fundamental research is done. The seed money is just that though, enough to get the ball rolling. Government’s role is to fund that stuff that industry would not fund. Then when basic science proves useful or to have great potential then greedy investors march in with hundreds of billions of dollars. Greed is good for innovation, and I think the Government’s role is justified and essential. But if we are going to operate in an economy where greed is not good, or even allowed, then the Government will need hundreds of billions of dollars year after year in order to result in the same level of innovation. I strongly prefer limited government and the seed approach.
NASA is a good example, but as I understand it even NASA relies on private industry very heavily. The government-private partnership is the way to go, and grants and seed money are a wise investment.
Thanks for joining the debate.
AdamAugust 17, 2009 02:57 pm
Mike’s right, the answer to “When has the government innovated?” is either “Every year since at least 1887 when the NIH was founded.” or “Who put men on the moon?”, depending on how pithy you’re feeling. Last year the federal government funded $137 billion worth of R&D across all fields, almost 3 times Pfizer’s total revenues last year.
In this country scientific research is funded through a complex system that combines both private and public funds. This is evidence for me that strong IP legislation isn’t the only way to encourage innovation, though it’s certainly an important one. I think we should be exploring all avenues available to innovate as quickly and usefully as we can.
David is also right that rationing must always exist in heath care, unless there is no scarcity of treatments. The only question is what mechanism is used for rationing. Right now we have a combination of legal and economic forces doing the rationing. It’s not clear to me that this system is the best one, and it’s certainly not just.
DavidAugust 17, 2009 02:19 pm
These are the issues that the debate over health care should be about, not whether the government is going to force you to pull the plug on Grandma. Cost of care and innovation are huge. These are the issues that we should be pushing the politicians –both for and against– the many plans to justify their positions; including the position for keeping the status quo.
Gene, I agree with you on rationing. Rationing, in economics, always occurs. It occurs either through price or some other determining factor as fundamentally there is an infinite amount of wants and a finite amount of resources. As it stands now, for those fortunate enough to have health insurance, those companies are doing the rationing. Some procedures/drugs etc., due to them being experimental or too costly are just not covered –or at least the insurance company will fight you tooth and nail. I have read, I believe it was from Paul Krugman, insurance companies spend upwards of 20% of their revenues on overhead; spending much of that towards trying to cut those unprofitable customers from their rolls. By reducing these practices by passing community rating laws etc., we could lower these costs and so would not necessarily lessen the quality of care for the money spent. But, I also agree, this will cost more money to insure all.
Innovation is another issue I see that is not being discussed. I am for strong protection for innovation, but I don’t understand why the United States has to bear the brunt of the costs, while Europe gets many of the benefits as well as universal healthcare (in their various forms). Is there a way to do this equitably where we are not sacrificing the health of the poor for the well off? Couldn’t this work with a public option, whereby if you pay more for private health insurance you would have access to the bells and whistles of the cutting edge but still the worse off in society can have access to doctors and basic treatment including preventative care (which would save money in fewer trips to the emergency room for non-emergency procedures).
I, like you, am frustrated. The healthcare system has been compared, in a Slate article at least, to that of a third world nation because care is available only to those with the fattest wallets. To say, as many do, that the US has the best health care in the world is only speaking about particular diseases (we fight cancer well for instance) or only for those that can afford it which is why we trail behind many other countries in terms of average life expectancy. There also exist problems for many small businesses that cannot afford to pay for insurance for their employees (hurting our employer-based system), and many that cannot compete in a global marketplace with firms in Europe and Asia that do not have that additional overhead that US companies have. Additionally, calling the health insurance industry a competitive free market is, at the very least, stretching the truth.
What kind of compromises can be made to help out the poor while remaining focused on innovation and not having sky rocketing costs? The status quo is that costs will continue to rise, and an increasing number of Americans will not be able to afford health insurance, especially when they are losing jobs. I am trying to keep an open mind on the issue, but it seems that there is intellectual dishonesty on both sides. One side says we can have it all which is impossible. The other says that we have the best health care system for all and we don’t want to ruin it.
MikeAugust 17, 2009 01:03 pm
Regarding government innovating vs. private sector, doesn’t the government innovate by giving grants to researchers all the time in various disciplines? How about NASA?
I agree though, I wouldn’t change protection for biologics. 12 years seems like a small price to pay for the public to get something for the rest of eternity.