Anthony Fauci is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He is an immunologist who has made substantial contributions to research on AIDS and other immunodeficiencies. He has pioneered the field of human immunoregulation and developed effective therapies for formally fatal inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases. In the field of AIDS research, he has helped contribute to an understanding of how the AIDS virus destroys the body's defenses leading to its susceptibility to deadly infections.
He has also served as an editor of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine and has authored, coauthored or edited more than 1,100 scientific publications, including several textbooks. Dr. Fauci is a key advisor to the White House and Department of Health and Human Services on global AIDS issues and public health protections against emerging infectious disease threats, such as pandemic influenza. He was educated at Cornell University Medical College and holds 32 honorary doctorate degrees.
Question: What should be the big issues of the 2008 presidential election?
Anthony Fauci: Well first of all, for domestic health, the issue that’s crying out to be addressed, and it’s going to take courage on the part of leadership, the President, it’s going to take cooperation with the Congress; it’s going to take an understanding and a flexibility on the part of the American public; is that we must address the fact that in this rich country of ours, we have 40-plus million people without healthcare insurance.
So we’ve got to be able to fix that problem, and fix it reasonably quickly so that when people lose their jobs, and with it lose their health insurance, and find out that they’re one job dismissal away from being completely vulnerable to disease and getting their savings and their family wiped out because they don’t have health insurance--we’ve got to fix that problem.
So if you’re asking me what I would think if the next president were to ask me my opinion, and what I would think from a domestic standpoint what we need to do, we really need to fix the healthcare delivery problem in this country [USA] with regard to universal health access to everyone. It’s not going to be easy, but I think it can be done. I think that if you have a flexible system where people can still have the choice of the doctor that they want, if they have insurance that they are able to pay for.
But that doesn’t mean that you then not allow people who don’t have the wherewithal to have insurance, that everybody has insurance.
And everybody can get a doctor. It may not necessarily be the doctor of your choice, but it’s a doctor that’s well trained and paid well enough to be someone of high quality. So just because you go into a system where you’re assigned a doctor, if you have people who are well trained and well paid, and have good motivations for being in that, you can get good medical care.
You don’t necessarily have to then exclude those people who want to choose their own doctor, and are willing to pay to choose their own doctor. So I think you can get both worlds there.
And also, there’s enough profit margin in drugs and the development of drugs that I don’t think there’s going to be an issue with the drug companies. There’s always going to be the need for new medications, better medications. So I don’t see that as an issue.
Recorded On: July 6, 2007