Thursday, June 27, 2013

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Shifts the Paradigm on Healthcare--From Cuts to Cures.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said on Wednesday:  "If you cure disease, you no longer have to spend dollars towards treating the symptoms ... of those diseases."

Bingo.  Of course, cures are cheaper than care.  It's cheaper to beat than to treat.  That was the lesson of polio.  A cure is cheaper than care.

If we want to "bend the curve" on healthcare costs--and we all do--this is the right way to do.  Also the only humane way.

But let Russell Berman of The Hill tell the story

“We believe in medical research and discovery, and we believe that pediatric medical research is and should be a national priority,” Cantor said. Joining him at the event were Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Renee Elmers (R-N.C.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), all co-sponsors of the bill.

The proposal, known as the Kids First Research Act, is part of Cantor’s “Making Life Work” agenda that he laid out earlier this year in a rebranding effort for Republicans. 

The backing of federal support for medical research is not so much a reversal for the Virginia Republican as it is a bid to get away from a singular GOP focus on spending cuts.

“In times of fiscal stress especially, we are called upon in Congress to set priorities,” Cantor said in describing the bill. “It’s also the right thing to do because research in this country of ours has proven to be a tremendous boon to our economy.”

Yet in defending the proposal against critics who say the elimination of presidential campaign funds should go only to deficit reduction, Cantor echoed the arguments that President Obama and other top Democrats have made in favor of government spending for research. 

The funding, he said, would promote economic growth and help reduce the deficit in the long term.

“Ultimately, we all know that the driver of our debt and deficit are the unfunded liabilities connected with the entitlement programs,” Cantor said at a press conference. 

“There’s been a lot of disagreement about how to address that. This money can actually be translated into addressing that through cures. If you cure disease, you no longer have to spend dollars towards treating the symptoms ... of those diseases.”

In fact, Cantor has been advancing this idea for a while.  Back in February I noted that the GOP leader's speech to AEI contained a refreshingly positive vision of scientific transformation.

If Cantor can inspire Republicans, and Rep. Rob Andrews can inspire Democrats, then there's the real prospect of a genuine transformation of American healthcare policy.

Next year, interestingly enough, marks the centennial of the birth of Jonas Salk, the man whose work epitomizes the once and future potential of the cure strategy.  

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