Health care and the Government

Billy Tauzin is a politician, lawyer and lobbyist. Of Cajun descent, he was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1972-1979 and the United States House of Representatives from 1980-2005, representing Louisiana's 3rd congressional district. In 1994, when the Democrats lost control of the House, Tauzin helped co-found the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate-to-conservative Democrats. Still considering conservatives unwelcome in the Democratic party, however, in 1995 Tauzin became a Republican, and the first American to have been part of the leadership of both parties in the House. From 2001-2004, Tauzin served as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. In 2005, the same day he left Congress and two months after having helped to pass the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, Tauzin was named director of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a trade group for pharmaceutical companies. Billy Tauzin is the original author of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1996 and the Cable Act, the only bills over the past ten years to become law despite Presidential veto. He received his BA from Nicholls State University in 1964 and his degree in law from Louisiana State University in 1967. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Healthcare Group.

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TRANSCRIPT

Question: What role should the government play?

Transcript: You know we have a hybrid system in America. We have government health care under Medicare and Medicaid. And we have SCHIP for children, which we in the industry support. We believe government does play a role in helping to subsidize the provision of health care to folks who can’t otherwise afford it. We believe that’s part of our responsibility as well so we try to carry it out. And we do believe that there’s a role for the public sector here. We certainly supported the doubling of the research budget to NIH which does so much basic research about human biology and disease. And we . . . we believe there’s a public role there. We recognize, first of all, that, you know, that hospitals in America and doctors in America provide free care today to patients who can’t afford it. And all of us subsidize that free care through higher insurance premiums. In effect we’re subsidizing the uninsured in America through the provision of free service, and hospitals, and clinics, and doctor offices, and through our free medicines that we give out. So having government subsidize insurance for low income people in America makes sense to us. And having programs designed specifically for categories of Americans who can’t afford to buy their own insurance – for people who work in plants where insurance is not provided, for example – makes sense to us. We believe in universal insurance coverage for our country. In the meantime we’re gonna do our part to make sure medicines reach people who can’t afford it. So do we support government programs? Yes. Do we support government regulating the private sector? No. The private sector has a huge value to this country. It’s where the research is occurring. It’s where the . . . literally all these new discoveries are happening. People around the world envy what we have in America in terms of our basic research facilities at NIH; and then our applied research base here in America where the companies actually test out these principles with molecules and biologic products that end up saving human lives like my own. So we see and understand that relationship, and we believe it should . . . it should continue. What we don’t believe is that we have to yield to total government regulation and control of a marketplace that depends so much upon private investors and private dollars to fund research.


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