Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Liberalism, Politics | Tags: National Institute of Health, Politics or Patients, Redefining words like "cancer"
“The federal government wants to reduce the number of Americans diagnosed each year with cancer. But not by better preventive care or healthier living. Instead the government wants to redefine the term “cancer” so that fewer conditions qualify as a true cancer. What does this mean for ordinary Americans — and should we be concerned?”
This is from an article in Forbes by Paul Hsieu, who is a physician and who did his residency in diagnostic radiology. The federal government wants to reserve the term “cancer” for lesions with a reasonable likelihood of killing the patient if left untreated.
Tumors that are slower growing would be called by a different name such as “indolent lesions of epithelial origin” (IDLE). ( this has echoes of Janet Napolitano’s redefinition of the global war on terror to “an overseas contingency operation.”)
The justification for the change is that modern technology allows doctors to detect small tumors that are slow-growing and not likely to be fatal. Yet once patients are told that they have cancer, many become frightened and demand unnecessary tests, chemotherapy, radiation or even surgery. By redefining the term “cancer” the National Cancer Institute hopes to reduce over-diagnosis, and over-treatment, and reduce patient’s anxiety — and governments costs.
Some patients do panic at the word “cancer” just when they most need sound judgment about medical decisions. But can redefinition be used for inappropriate political purposes? With a vast bureaucratic organization increasingly controlling American healthcare, how the government defines medical terms can have real implications for economic and policy decisions.
The definition of a “live birth” has played a huge part in the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The supposedly high infant mortality rate in the US relative to European countries was heavily emphasized by the Left as one of the failures of the US medical system that had to be fixed right now.
Dr. Bernadine Healy (former director of the National Institute of Health explained:
The United States counts all births as live if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity or size. This includes what many other countries report as stillbirths. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) to count as a live birth; in other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless. And some countries don’t reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth.
Thus the U.S. is sure to report higher infant mortality rates. But comparisons are faulty. The definition of the beginning of “pregnancy” has major implications for the abortion debate, and whether a drug is considered a form of birth control or a chemical abortion.
The AMA recently voted to declare obesity a “disease.”This is an interesting way for members to get more federal dollars by getting obesity treatment covered on federal health plans.
Redefining “cancer” will be used to justify reducing “unnecessary” screening tests. Mammograms can detect “ductal carcinoma in situ” which would no longer be called cancer under redefinition, yet a certain percentage of such lesions can and will progress to clear-cut cancers. Cutting back on tests will save money.
There aren’t any easy answers, medicine is not a cut-and-dried, one-size-fits-all deal. It’s an art, and doctors can’t always tell what will progress to really serious.
ObamaCare — the government as insurance company — is based on the idea that they can make health care cost less by having a faceless government bureaucracy decide what treatments actually make people healthier by examining nationwide statistics. President Obama has frequently used the idea that we’re paying for treatments that don’t actually make people healthier as one of his ACA promotion points.
Unspoken in the debate about redefinition is insurance coverage. If a patient has an “indolent lesion of epithelial origin” will subsequent mammograms be covered? The government is already trying to reduce the frequency of mammograms. Is this a money-saving scheme? Dr. Hsieh doesn’t think so.
This is the basic fundamental problem with government-run health insurance. Their drive is to make health care cost less. Physicians struggle to be paid enough to cover their expenses. Federal programs always cost far more than the original estimates. The incentives are no longer patient health and care.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Europe, Health Care, Liberalism | Tags: Big Government Excess, National Institute of Health, President Barack Obama
Dr Scott Gottlieb has a post at National Review this morning, saying:
Fresh off its successes in the green-energy patch, the Obama team is turning its investment skills to the life sciences. Last Friday, President Obama announced his intention to increase the federal government’s involvement in the business of biotechnology.
His plan is for a new federal center inside the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that would be focused on the development and commercialization of new drugs. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) would engage in early drug-development work, eventually handing off programs to private companies for completion. In return the government would take a guaranteed royalty stream on drugs that eventually made it to market. The center would get its seed money by tapping other NIH programs. Longer term, the administration’s plan is to provide billions in dedicated federal funding to the new drug center.
Um, Oh oh!
The NCATS idea reflects the belief of the president and NIH director Francis Collins that the for-profit drug industry has ignored promising areas of science because these opportunities appeared financially dubious. Collins has said that government can plow scientific fields that profit-driven companies ignore. He suggested during an interview on CNBC earlier this year that NIH drug developers would also get a break from regulators at the Food and Drug Administration. His reasoning seems to be that government regulators could place more trust in government drug developers.
Do read the whole article. This proposal is one of those things that can sound appealing at first glance, yet requires some careful examination. It is coming right at the time when federal regulatory agencies have been squeezing the life-sciences sector. Regulators have been forcing longer development programs, and this, in turn, has made the cost of creating new drugs dramatically higher. Fewer new drugs are reaching the market, and fewer programs are being funded. Not interesting unless it happens to be the drug that might have saved your life.
The NIH has great achievements, Gottlieb says, but they are to do with basic science. The NIH is not very good at drugs. The government spends more than a combined $50 billion a year, but has helped to discover only 84 drugs in the past 60 years. The agency has also been reluctant to submit to FDA oversight of the same kind required of private drug companies.
This proposal demonstrates nothing so much as Obama’s misplaced faith in Big Government as the proper agent to determine what, in their wisdom, they think the people should or should not have. There are other names for this kind of government, and they are not included in a Constitution that begins “We the People…”
Back a while, Ted Kennedy and Rahm Emanuel introduced a bill removing the “reimportation ban” to make companies subject to FTC action if they refuse to sell to foreign companies that undersell them. The “Patent Reform Act” would degrade the patent system and patent rights. It endorses a congressional finding that says “Congress believes access to drugs is more important than protecting corporate rights to produce those drugs.”
The idea was that the poor are going to Canada for drugs and rich pharmaceutical companies care only about profits. This is typical liberal thinking. The actual consequences would deprive pharmaceutical companies of the financial incentive to develop and market new drugs. Liberals described it as a way to promote innovation and efficiency in patents. Uh huh. In actuality it would do just the opposite.
In 2007, Senator Bernie Sanders (S – VT) came up with the Medical Innovation Prize Act, which would deprive inventors of medicines and drug treatments of all patent rights, and instead create a bureaucracy to dole out compensation from a “prize fund.” The theory was that prizes would act as incentive to create new drugs for HIV/AIDS or 3rd world malaria. It just strips all patent rights from all medicine.
I assume that neither of these acts ever saw the light of day, but it demonstrates liberal thinking. They don’t understand the free market. They hate corporations and don’t understand the profit motive, and essentially think corporations should do nice things for free. Haven’t noticed Sen. Sanders offering to serve in the Senate for free, nor the other two either. Their thinking always has to do with the presumed wisdom of the elites who serve in the federal government.
The world is in turmoil with financial crises created by government. Our current recession was caused by government action, and is being prolonged by government action. It was not caused by greedy corporations or bankers or even Wall Street. It was caused by government. The Crisis in Europe was caused by government action. The Conservative Euro-skeptics were right, and have been proven right. Free markets work.
The independent actions of millions of people acting in their own self-interest have a collective wisdom that governments cannot even begin to imitate. When will they ever learn?