Tuesday, September 18, 2012

9. Death to Innovation

Another reason for the high costs of healthcare is our Technology. We have developed very
advanced medical technology over the years, technology that saves our lives and helps us to
live longer and healthier lives. When health insurance became popular in the 1960’s we had
very little technology—I’m a radiologist and we had xray, and barium studies—upper GIs,
things like that. Now we have CAT scans, MRIs and PET scans. The machines alone cost over a
million dollars. Technology has become very expensive.

Did you know that 90% of new medical technology and innovation is developed in our very
own United States of America? 90%. Why do you think that is? Money-grubbing corporations
no doubt. Let’s look at an example:

In the late 1980’s Dr. Steve Parker designed needles to sample tissue in breast masses, saving
patients from the risk and expense of having to have surgery in an operating room in order
to diagnose their breast disease. Now this needle biopsy technique is used throughout the
US and around the world. Dr. Parker’s innovation has changed the way breast disease is
diagnosed throughout the world, and it has saved patients, insurers and the government
billions of dollars in healthcare costs. If he had been restricted to only practicing government
approved medicine, he would never have had the opportunity to develop this technology.
You see, Dr. Parker was not working in an academic institution… he was in private practice. He
did this on his own, funded it on his own. It is this kind of innovation and courage that makes
America the land of opportunity.

Under Obamacare, that will change. The new law adds a 2.3% tax on medical devices. This tax
alone could put some small medical device manufacturers out of business. It will certainly
limit the amount of money they will be able to commit to research and development of new

Now, consider this: In the new law physician ownership or investment in medical technology
manufacturing will be monitored by the government---they get to choose who can be
involved in what research, and to what extent. Don’t they realize that a huge portion of new
medical technology and innovation comes from physicians? Why are they discouraging new
technology? If a new technology isn’t what the market needs, it won’t be adapted. We DO
NOT need government to choose for us!

As a physician, I am afraid for my patients. As an American, I am afraid for my country.

(Note: This commentary is by Dr. Jill Vecchio.)

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