Health care and the Government

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.

What does the government owe to the health of its citizens?

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