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OpenMarket: Business and Government

  • FDA Authority: Less Is More

    July 19, 2007
    Our good friend (and adjunct fellow) Henry Miller of the Hoover Institute responds in the pages of Regulation to charges that the FDA isn't regulating prescription drugs harshly enough:
    There is an old saying in Washington that when something has been repeated three times, it becomes a fact. The saying's most recent application is the supposed shortcomings in the safety of prescription drugs. The reality is that although all drugs have side effects — which can be serious and/or frequent — modern pharmaceuticals have wrought miracles in the control of pain, the treatment and prevention of infections, and the amelioration of diseases of aging such as arthritis and cancer. Regulators need to balance patients' access to...
  • Worthy Pleasure Seekers of the World Unite

    July 17, 2007
    Today the Senate Finance Committee is considering the "Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2007," which, according to James Thorner of the St. Petersburg Times, includes an interesting funding mechanism - raising the federal tax on cigars (currently 4.8 cents) to $10 per cigar. Yes, you read that correctly. Let's see what small-time cigar maker Eric Newman thinks of that idea:
    Eric Newman punches the numbers on his calculator and gapes at the results one more time. It's no mathematical error: The federal government has proposed raising taxes on premium cigars, the kind Newman's family has been rolling for decades in Ybor City, by as much as 20,000 percent. As part...
  • Mandatory Purchase

    July 9, 2007
    In a piece in Saturday's Washington Examiner, I examine the parallels between auto insurance and health insurance, and, for the most part, find that they're not that great. Here's one point I make:
    To begin with, borrowing the most talked about feature of auto insurance—mandatory purchase—won't actually provide coverage to all of the 47 million Americans who lack it. While over 95 percent of American motorists live in states that mandate auto insurance purchase, about 13 percent of accidents involve drivers without coverage. Countries like Switzerland, Israel, and Germany that require individuals to buy private health insurance, likewise, find that not everyone complies. Mandatory purchase would decrease the number of uninsured, but, alone, nobody can seriously contend that it would actually result in universal...
  • Could it happen here? Probably not.

    July 5, 2007
    Recent media reports indicate that some the leading suspects in the recently attempted terror attacks against the U.K. were doctors working for the National Health Service. Although some of the 9/11 plotters had significant formal education (leader Mohamed Atta had studied architecture) all had failed in attempts to enter high-status professions. It's easy to speculate that their resentment over this helped feed their desire to commit acts of terror. But the alleged U.K. plotters were DOCTORS with JOBS. Best as I understand, any doctor who can get a job offer in the U.S. can come. Although our immigration bureaucracy does everything it can to drive them away, our laws still do a pretty good job welcoming the well-educated...
  • Sicko's Sick Stunt

    July 2, 2007
    MTV film critic Kurt Loder takes apart Michael Moore's Sicko.  The entire review is well worth reading, but here's a sample, Loder on Moore's most distasteful stunt:
    Fidel Castro's island dictatorship, now in its 40th year of being listed as a human-rights violator by Amnesty International, is here depicted as a balmy paradise not unlike the Iraq of Saddam Hussein that Moore showed us in his earlier film, "Fahrenheit 9/11." He and his charges make their way — their pre-arranged way, if it need be said — to a state-of-the-art hospital where they receive a picturesquely warm welcome. In a voiceover, Moore, shown beaming at his little band of visitors, says he told the Cuban doctors to "give them the same care they'd give Cuban citizens." Then he adds, dramatically: "And they did."
  • Bureaucrash Does Dallas (Morning News)

    June 30, 2007
    Congratulations to Jason and our friends at Americans for Prosperity and the Moving Picture Institute for their recent anti-Sicko demonstration here in DC. Photos and video available here. Better yet, the protest has garnered a mention in Jason Robertson's story about Sicko in the Dallas Morning News:
    Weeks before the film opened, some health care activist groups began sending e-mails to journalists disputing Mr. Moore's assessment of America's health care system, as well as the efficiency of systems in other countries. Bureaucrash, an international activist group based in...
  • AMA wants investigation of store-based health clinics

    June 26, 2007
    Yesterday, the American Medical Association said it had adopted recommendations for state and federal agencies to investigate store-based health clinics. At its annual meeting, the AMA announced that it was worried about possible conflicts of interest, patients' welfare, and liability concerns. Here's the directive they issued:
    The nation's physician leaders meeting at the AMA Annual Meeting voted to adopt the following directive instructing the AMA to:
    1. ask the appropriate state and federal agencies to investigate ventures between retail clinics and pharmacy chains with an emphasis on inherent conflicts of interest in such relationships, patients' welfare and risk, and professional liability concerns.
    2. continue to work with interested state and specialty medical...
  • Michael Moore's "Sicko" - Diagnosis: PWNED

    June 15, 2007
    Michael Moore's new attack-umentary on the American health care system, Sicko, seems to be having viral problems of its own. A mysterious source has uploaded the entire movie to the web, and as a result, it is now freely available for (unauthorized) download by anyone with an Internet connection. Ad Age has the story:
    Last week, the Oscar winning director announced that he'd decided to stash a copy of "Sicko" in Canada, in case the Federal government decided to impound it over an apparently unauthorized trip to Cuba made during its filming. As it turns out, the hard part won't be getting the film released, but getting audiences to pay to see it now that its available for free. If the breach is as wide as it appears -- and this reporter downloaded a copy...
  • USA Today: Full Medical Coverage or Nothing at All?

    June 6, 2007
    A write-up in USA Today by reporter Julie Appleby about health insurance gets some attention from our friends at the Business and Media Institute, including a cite of our very own Hans Bader and his scorecard of the nation's Top 10 Worst State Attorneys General:
    Appleby also turned to two New England Democratic attorneys general that have a predisposition against health insurers. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, recently rated the worst attorney general by Hans Bader of the...
  • Chronic Vague Symptom Syndrome: Wi-Fi Edition

    June 4, 2007
    There's more wi-fi scaremongering this week in The Indepedent, which cites an alleged wave of parents and school administrators in the UK who have disconnected wi-fi networks in their homes and schools. The idea that people were actually dropping wi-fi entirely because of phantom health concerns seemed positively eccentric when former CEI analysts Isaac Post and Peter Suderman wrote about it happening at Canada's Lakehead University in March 2006. Now, however, it seems the retreat from technology has become more common. I predict that a maximum of sixth months will pass before a multi-million dollar lawsuit is filed in either the UK or U.S. alleging...

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