Blog Posts (3)
July 1, 2014
[The New York Times] The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. It was, a dissent said, “a decision of startling breadth.” The 5-to-4 ruling, which applied to two companies owned by Christian families, opened the door […]
April 30, 2014
Opening remarks by BEI Young Professionals contributor Charley Willison. The Affordable Care Act is a historic piece of healthcare legislation, after stymied efforts to pass healthcare reform for more than a century. Many misconceptions and critical rhetoric surround the ACA, or ‘Obamacare’, but what may not be a ‘Perfect Law’ offers a momentous step forward […]
April 16, 2010
Dear Faithful Readers: Teaching has cut my blogging to a trickle, though the teaching has now begun to taper off. My silence is not for want of major developments in the last two months. Among a few highlights:
• Obama picks members for his Bioethics advisory panel: White house recently announced membership of its "Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues." The group is smaller than past Presidential panels. Its membership is lean on working bioethicists (3 or 4 who clearly fit the classic definition-- all others scientists, clinicians, federal employees, university administrators, or a disease advocate).
• Health care reform (+ Translational Research) passes in the U.S.: Among the intriguing elements here is the relationship between reform and biomedical research. When Clinton proposed healthcare reform in the 1990s, there was much consternation in the research community that this would spell a retreat from investment in basic research. Indeed, failure to enact reform propelled a massive expansion of the NIH budget through the 1990s. This time around, healthcare reform has specifically integrated basic research. The law includes language creating a "Cures Acceleration Network" that would fund up to $15M/year in translational research (though the budget will depend on direct appropriation from Congress, and there is no certainty that it will be funded).
• Gene Patents Voided: Following an ACLU challenge, a U.S. District Court Judge threw out Myriad Genetics' patent on BRCA1 and BRCA2 (genes associated with hereditary breast cancer; the company markets a $3K per pop test for mutations in the genes) by ruling that the genes are "products of nature." Products of nature are not patentable, though products purified from nature (e.g. enzymes, wood chemicals, etc.) are. The logic behind the decisions is that genes are better thought of as information rather than as chemicals, and that information extracted from the natural entities does not have distinct properties in the way that chemicals do. If ever there were a demonstration of the power of metaphors; suffice it to say, biotechnology companies will appeal. (photo credit: aurelian s 2008)
June 21, 2012 10:34 am
The ethical principles that have for centuries shaped the relationship between patient and physician should also guide legislators, regulators — and justices of the highest court — charged with crafting U.S. health care policies that demarcate the boundaries of a physician’s business practice, an Indiana University professor argues.
June 18, 2012 6:47 pm
As the Supreme Court is about to rule on the constitutionality of the health care law, one-third of Americans are worrying about a part of the legislation that isn’t there. A Kaiser Family Foundation’s tracking poll [.pdf] found in March that 36 percent of respondents erroneously believe that the law “would allow a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare.”Another 20 percent said they are not sure whether it does.
June 9, 2012 9:18 pm
After weeks of talks, drug industry lobbyists were growing nervous. To cut a deal with the White House on overhauling health care, they needed to be sure that President Obama would stop a proposal intended to bring down medicine prices.
May 29, 2012 10:39 am
THE sleek, four-armed “da Vinci” robot has been called a breakthrough technology for procedures like prostate surgery. “Imagine,” the manufacturer says, “having the benefits of a definitive treatment but with the potential for significantly less pain, a shorter hospital stay, faster return to normal daily activities.” That’s just the kind of impressive-sounding innovation that critics of the health care reform act say will be stifled by the new law, with its emphasis on cost control and the comparative effectiveness of new pills and devices.
May 14, 2012 11:30 am
One pernicious category of imaginary risks involves those created by users of the dreaded “slippery slope” arguments. Such arguments are dangerous because they are popular, versatile and often convincing, yet completely fallacious. Worse, they are creeping into an arena that should be above this sort of thing: the Supreme Court, in its deliberations on health care reform.