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Commentary

U.S. Health Care Needs a Spark
Newt Gingrich, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 12-15-04

Gingrich believes that it is high time that the United States learns to think of its investments in health care as a golden economic opportunity, rather than a lamentable state of affairs that should be rectified as soon as possible.

"Despite America's well-documented health-care delivery problems, America's actual health care is the best in the world. U.S. firms are responsible for some of the most important innovations in pharmacology and medical technology. Wealthy foreigners routinely come to the United States for advanced medical services with the best possible outcomes. To take advantage of this position, President Bush should create a new undersecretary for health in the Department of Commerce to promote the American system of health care worldwide.”

America’s gain, however, has been met with apprehension by other countries like Japan and France “who have recently imposed what are called ‘foreign reference prices’ on U.S. technology that prevent firms from pricing products at a rate appropriate to the actual costs of doing business in their countries. Fewer than 1 percent of U.S. products launched in Japan over the last 10 years have received a new product price distinct from its predecessor, resulting in an unfair disadvantage for U.S. manufacturers.”

The newly created undersecretary for health “would have the important task of ensuring that overseas markets provide a level playing field for exports of the U.S. health economy. He or she could help break down these barriers by accelerating patient access to medical innovations; encouraging robust research and development opportunities (much of which is spurred by small U.S. start-up firms that require venture capital); ERM promoting transparent and consistent product approval policies at home and abroad; and helping ensure predictable pricing that consistently rewards innovation.”



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