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Healthcare Reform Must Be Market-based to Succeed

Healthcare Reform Must Be Market-based to Succeed
(AP Photo)

By Friday, 24 March 2017 03:22 PM Current | Bio | Archive

We previously discussed how the trillion-dollar obesity epidemic must be tackled in healthcare reform. It is imperative to change how we confront it — making the obese pay more, wellness and prevention programs, employing shame — especially because a study found that many overweight Americans have abandoned efforts to become healthier.

But that is only part of the solution.

Market-based reforms proven to reduce costs must also be enacted.

That we have yet to employ them indicts Washington, D.C.'s do-nothing culture.

Hopefully that will change with this administration, though given the fact that none of the following reforms are contained in the proposed legislation — and why not? —real change is extremely doubtful.

Consider these ideas:

  • Lengthen patent periods for drugs. Critics will claim that throws a bone to the "Evil Empire" — the pharmaceutical and bio-tech industries — but they would be wrong. It’s common sense, and one of the only ways to reduce prescription drug prices.At face value, it costs billions to bring a single drug to market. But the true outlay is much higher — as much as $11 billion when factoring in drug failures. In other words, pharmaceutical companies often spend billions on a drug’s development, only to see it fail in the last clinical trial (fewer than 1 in 10 medicines that begin clinical trials succeed). Those massive sums aren’t simply shrugged off, but made up elsewhere so that research on other lifesaving drugs can continue. Thus, the primary driver for high drug costs is the desire to stay profitable so that more miracle medicines can be discovered.

  • The whole point is that there isn’t a person in America whose life hasn’t been saved, lengthened or enhanced by a pharmaceutical drug, from ibuprofen to chemotherapy.

  • The industry’s advances are mind-blowing. We now have the ability to enter cells, repair damaged DNA, and fix disease-causing mutations (CRISPR gene editing) before they become a problem. But if such innovations are to continue, patent extension is needed. Yes, patents are 20 years, but that’s a misnomer, because the clock starts when the drug is invented — not brought to market. Since it can take eight years of further research and clinical trials before a drug reaches consumers, the effective patent period is substantially reduced.

  • Companies not forced to recoup their development costs so quickly could lower prices. Obviously, the industry must be wary of greedy pricing practices (evidenced by the Epi-pen saga) but lengthening patent periods is a win-win.

  • Take on the trial lawyers once and for all. Because Donald Trump isn’t beholden to the trial lawyers and their deep pockets, he is uniquely positioned to spearhead medical malpractice reform, which would give the cowards in congress the political cover they crave. Let’s not forget that it was President George W. Bush and the Republican majorities in Congress who not only didn’t have the guts to oppose the trial lawyers, but were in bed with them. Too bad, because the trial bar, as much as anyone, has been responsible for astronomical insurance increases.

  • No one is saying the aggrieved shouldn’t receive fair compensation, but jackpot jury awards, resulting in skyrocketing malpractice premiums, have forced doctors to order needless (and expensive) tests solely to cover their derrieres. That must end.

  • The biggest no-brainer reform is allowing businesses and individuals to buy health insurance across state lines, which is currently illegal. So we are permitted to buy auto insurance from anywhere in the country, but not health insurance. Why the stranglehold on the free market?

  • Because it’s not in the interests of the major insurance companies to have consumer choice, since that would end their gravy train and force them to become competitive. Thankfully for them, they have deep political pockets. Result? Nothing has changed. Big insurers continue to blow smaller, niche firms out of the market and carve monopolistic kingdoms for themselves. Consumers are held hostage to skyrocketing rates and decreasing coverage, while insurers laugh all the way to the bank. Enough is enough.

  • Until competition is implemented, true healthcare portability will remain unattainable, and job-creating companies will be stifled as they remain pawns in a corrupted system. Mr. President, tear down those walls!

  • Mandate all bathroom doors in businesses — especially restaurants — open outward, which would significantly reduce costs for illnesses contracted by others’ poor hygiene habits.

This article is the second in a series.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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Market-based reforms proven to reduce costs must also be enacted to restructure U.S. healthcare. That we have yet to employ them indicts Washington, D.C.'s do-nothing culture. Hopefully that will change with the Trump administration.
Friday, 24 March 2017 03:22 PM
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