Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Healthcare Summit With No Scientists

Politico provides a list of the attendees at the Blair House Summit. We see 38 names of Senators and Members of Congress, and yet only two of them are doctors: Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana.

So far, we have heard President Barack Obama, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi just quoted an American asking, "When is something going to happen on healthcare? We can't hold out much longer."

But again, we might ask: What does it mean, "something is going to happen on healthcare?" What is the essence of healthcare? Is it having health insurance, or is it getting treated and cured? As we have noted, you don't go to the doctor to show off your health insurance card, you go to get better.

Pelosi also just said, "Healthcare reform is entitlement reform." Oh, so it's not about health, it's about savings. No wonder the American people are turning off.

And then she added, "I want to talk about it what it means to the economy." But no mention of the jobs created by healthcare, to say nothing of medical research and medical technology.

And she cites the "job lock" because a child is sick. Well, "job lock" is a problem. But what if the child were not sick in the first place?

But of course, if we're going to think our way out of medical problems, we can't rely just on politicians. We need scientists, such as Dr. Jonas Salk, or Dr. Anthony Fauci, or Dr. Francis Collins. That's how to bend the curve: Just as Salk bent the curve on polio, and Fauci and many others bent the curve on AIDS. That's the way to reduce costs.

Update: Sen. Harry Reid told a moving story about a Nevada man whose child needed cleft palate surgery, and how the insurance company was giving the man a hard time over the cost of the surgery. Fair enough: But the real story of medicine is the fact that the surgery can be done in the first place. And the real key to pushing down costs for cleft-palate surgery, or any kind of surgery, is further technological advance. That's the story of laparascopic surgery, and it's a real cost-curve bender.


  1. Ever notice how the Dems live off of 'Hard Luck Stories?'

    Get the violins out!

  2. If I were a Republican senator at the Blair House Summit I would ask Mr. President
    WHY his bill does not mention:

    WHY no Tort Reform;
    WHY can't People buy their meds from the cheapest country offering it;
    WHY Health Insurance companies can't bid across state lines for the peoples business;
    WHY, Directly or indirectly, the Federal Government will pay for Abortions?

    Mr. Obama, WHY?
    And when his bill does address these issues, then maybe we'll think about second terms for Presidents who so far has disappointed us!

  3. Completely agree.

  4. As a scientist in the field of biomedical research, I am not sure more scientists would have improved the discussion. No, what was needed and didn't occur is to put the specialist in the center of the discussion, namely the doctor, the MD, the practitioner, the only one who really deals with and understands both sides of the coin, the patient and the insurance company.

  5. I can personally verify that financial help for uninsured patients with catastrophic illness IS available.

    If government policies hadn't been a major factor in the high cost of the insurance to begin with, then maybe I could have afforded a policy.

    The only "bipartisan" solution is to recognize that government intervention IS the problem and take measures for tort reform to repeal regulations that interfere with market forces.

  6. - look out the socialist are coming ...ahhhh

    if only people would get a clue rather than be cajoeled around by corporate mouth pieces

    but then again i suppose the right wingers like this sort of stuff ...

  7. As your blog is attempting to point out it is true that politicians do not have knowledge of health care as doctors do. However, the debate is not on what treatment, it is access to treatment through insurance, because without that card to show off to the doctor individuals are unable to afford checkups and preventative treatment.

    As stated in the debate we as a nation have decided that everyone should have a right to attorney to determine your rights in the court of law. How is it then that we cannot decide that everyone deserves access to a doctor to ensure our health and well being.

  8. Everyone deserves health insurance, and America is only losing money and respect around the world by not passing reforms that lower costs but provide care to all, especially preventative care. It seems like republicans are just going to vote against anything Obama supports however. :(

  9. Did you ever consider that doctors do not run hospitals, administrators do, and doctors don't run insurance companies, insurers do. This blog, your logic, and your reasoning are bogus. If there is a pool of people and an exchange is utilized competition is still going to drive prices of meds and procedures down. The problem is with people like you that are too stubborn to admit the dems have a better idea. This is at the expense of the citizens. Think. Grow a pair.

  10. You guys missed a doc in your count in paragrpah 1. John Barasso (R-WY) is an orthopedic surgeon with 25 years in private practice. Bad research on your part because you're a Fox News contributor and he's on Fox News quite a bit. Other than that, I agree with your post...this is about wealth re-distribution. Just had to take up for our guy from out here in the snowy, windy hinterlands.