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  • 12/07/2012

Yesterday I participated on the Pennsylvania BIO-sponsored panel, “Election Aftermath: The Fiscal Cliff and the Future of Healthcare Reform.”

You might have heard of these issues.

My fellow panelists were Senator Bob Casey (D, PA), Congressman Jim Gerlach (R, PA) and Gary Karr  (Executive VP, AdvaMed). The panel was expertly moderated by Chris Satullo (Executive Director of News and Civic Dialogue at WHYY).

Much of the evening’s focus was on the collision of healthcare innovation and national healthcare policy – and not in a good way.

Specific items of discussion were IPAB – Uncle Sam dictating (for tens of millions of Americans) what treatments will be available for physicians and patients; PCORI – the government instructing physicians as to how to practice medicine, FDA reform (specifically surrounding the issue of predictability), waste in Medicare and Medicaid, the medical device tax (both Casey and Gerlach are for repeal of the tax), the President’s call to roll back biologics exclusivity from 12 to 7 years (both Casey and Gerlach are for preserving 12) and, of course, the issues surrounding state exchanges.

Since states are the laboratories of innovation, governors should be given wide authority to design programs that best fit the needs of their particular situations. Ultimately states will learn from each other. HHS waivers should be broad. We’ll see.

The worst scenario is a one-size-fits-all top-down approach that fits everyone poorly. Alas – that’s a pathway preferred by many inside the Beltway.  A key issue here is that of essential health benefits, what are they and who makes the call.

Congressman Gerlach was especially effusive (and appropriately so) of the free-market design of Medicare Part D. Lower than expected costs, high utilization and user satisfaction. And he strongly agreed this is a model that can work in the design and implementation of state exchanges.

Jim Dandy.

Senator Casey mentioned his strong support of NIH funding. I suggested to the Senator (politely) that perhaps more than a small slice of that largesse should be redirected to the FDA.

Does White Oak have a friend in Pennsylvania?


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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