Elections and What It Means to Health Care

by Laurence P. Birch, Chairman and CEO, DATATRAK

As the power in Washington shifts between parties, the discussion in health care remains the same. How should we, as a nation, address health care, both from the perspective of the physician and the researcher?

The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, continues to be debated. Republicans, with their new majority status in Washington and in many states, are committed to getting it repealed, even though a Presidential Veto is certain. As CEO of a Life Sciences Technology company, I know firsthand how important it is to get meaningful treatment to patients, and am hopeful that as the program matures, regardless of what changes are implemented, that the impact on drug and device development is improved. Additionally, now that we are a few years into the ACA I am hopeful that several issues that have arisen can now be quickly addressed with bipartisan support.

For example, one of the elements affecting the research industry is the added tax on medical devices. The lower profit potential for the companies who are taking the risk of development and the additional cost to the patient is affecting both innovation and adoption. Repealing this tax seems the very obvious choice. Though the price tag is a big one – $29 Billion in lost tax revenue over 10 years – the cost will be offset by both improved device company earnings, increased provider profits through broader device usage and of course, reduced morbidity and quality of life for the patients.

Clinical research costs continue to rise and the research companies who pay for the process are often ridiculed for the expense of the final approved treatment. It is important to remember that there are many failures for each approved treatment. In fact, only 1 in every 5000 drugs/devices actually survive the rigorous clinical trial process and enter the market—by some estimates that means that the total cost of innovation for just one drug/device to enter the market is over $5 Billion!

As the lame duck session wraps up and our newly elected officials gather in Washington in 2015, the need to support health care efforts in our country must take center stage. While there are many critical topics to discuss, including tax reform, immigration, and international security issues, the health and well-being of Americans must certainly be urgently addressed. It is my hope that our new leadership will put politics aside and truly focus on the efforts of researchers, sponsors, CROs, and the service providers who support them to speed innovation, bringing meaningful treatments to market; improving the lives of real people and using their new found profits to reinvest in further innovation—-the virtuous cycle of progress!

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