Monday, February 22, 2010

My Mini-Op-Ed in The New York Times

My piece, below, was one of five contributions that the NYT solicited from a spectrum of Republicans:

When Americans think about health care, they think first of health, not finance. They go to the doctor to get well, not to show off their government-issued insurance card. So President Obama’s health care reform plan was doomed from the moment the American people figured out that his goal was to spend less on health care.

While the president’s idea of “bending the curve” on health care means cuts in Medicare, to the American people bending the curve means living better and longer. To the folks on Main Street, it means not appointing Kafkaesque committees to measure “quality-adjusted life years” but fostering a vibrant climate of scientific research and opening a wider pipeline for new medicines.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans say they are not getting enough medical treatment, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data. But we want not just more care; we want better health. Thanks to the public-private effort that decades ago brought us the polio vaccine, we no longer spend money on wheelchairs and iron lungs. We could do the same today for other diseases. Finding a cure is cheaper than paying for care.

Our medical industries can improve our economy as well as our health. As Robert Fogel, the Nobel-winning economic historian, wrote last year, health care is “the growth industry of the 21st century.” We won’t escape from the recession by provoking a recession within the health care sector. When people are healthier and more productive, they will need less chronic care, and tax revenues will rise out of the expanding economic pie.

A “more health” plan is a win for individual health, a win for economic growth and, yes, a win for the cause of long-term health savings.

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