|Leading policy-makers and scholars explain how market forces, deregulation, and consumer choice can work to improve health care for all Americans.||
Thwart Hillarycare 2006
Goldberg, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, argues that the Medicare drug benefit is a watershed development in American health care, as seniors for the first time have an unprecedented ability to choose private plans that fit their needs. Advocates of drug-price controls and restrictive government formularies are ignoring the innovations, value, and choice that private plans will bring to millions of American seniors:
The Lichtenberg study [on price controls in the VA] shows that government more often than not chooses to set up barriers to new medicines or technologies that improve overall health. For example, though the government calls obesity a public-health crisis, neither Medicare nor the VA has obesity-management programs in place. It would take an act of Congress or a change in regulation, again at least 18 months, to set them up and authorize direct payment for such innovative care. Drug companies would have to lobby Congress to get their medicines added to drug formularies.
By comparison, health plans such as CIGNA, Destiny Health and Humana have created obesity and cardiovascular-disease management programs in response to consumer demand. The plans are working with biotech and pharmaceutical firms to develop treatment strategies that combine medicine, exercise and nutrition customized to reduce weight.
The private sector is driven by the market test: will consumers pay for the products companies deliver? Companies that donít pass this test fail. Private companies also have powerful incentives to offer better products, with lower prices, over time. In the health care sector, those incentives are attenuated by government and employers who throw up barriers between health care consumers and providers. HSAs and other consumer-friendly programs will help to tear down those barriers.
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