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OpenMarket: Health and Safety

  • HHS Secretary: Health Insurance Industry Needs Competition... With Government

    June 17, 2009
    In an AP interview on Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called for competition in the health insurance market. No, not between private insurance providers free to set their own policies, but between the private sector and the federal government. Failing to understand (or acknowledge) that the top and proper priority of any private enterprise that intends to survive is profit, not service to others, she boldly claimed that the private insurance market "has really failed to provide affordable coverage to Americans." There can be no real competition in the market if one player makes the rules for the others and cannot run out of money. If (when) the government health care system fails to live up to its stated goals, it will not suffer downsizing or face bankruptcy....
  • Obama’s Speech to AMA on Healthcare Misses the Point

    June 15, 2009
    In a speech before the American Medical Association on Monday, June 15, President Obama pitched his plan for heathcare reform. The main thrust of the speech was that his plan would be "deficit neutral" and would not interfere with people's existing healthcare arrangements, while expanding coverage and offering public alternatives to existing private systems. Underlying the Obama plan is the same hubris that underlies all schemes to take decisions out of the hands of everyday people and instead entrust them to central planners: the belief that the government knows what you need better than you do. Driving it is a belief that there is only one test of an equitable system: outcomes. "We need to give doctors bonuses for good health outcomes," said the President, "so that we are not promoting just more treatment, but better care." President Obama asserted several times in his speech that...
  • Senate Passes FDA Tobacco Regulation Bill; Obama Will Sign It

    June 11, 2009
    The Senate has just passed the FDA tobacco regulation bill by a 79-to-17 vote. The bill now goes to President Obama, who has said he will sign it. The bill has odd and counterproductive provisions. Curiously, the bill would deny companies' protection against "tort liability -- even if they rigorously follow every FDA rule." As I noted earlier, FDA regulation may actually undermine public health by making it harder to market to...
  • FDA Poised to Regulate Tobacco, Which May Backfire

    June 10, 2009
    Congress is about to enact a bill to subject tobacco to FDA regulation. Mark Berlind notes one anomalous feature of the bill: it would deny companies' protection against "tort liability -- even if they rigorously follow every FDA rule." We wrote earlier about how FDA regulation might actually undermine public health by making it harder to market to smokers other tobacco products, like snus, that are not as lethal as cigarettes. As Jacob Sullum notes, the law will require snus "to carry a warning that it 'is...
  • Regulation of the Day: Saving the Children

    June 10, 2009
    On June 26, the National Commission on Children and Disasters is having a meeting. They will be talking about another meeting from the day before.
  • Jack Dreyfus, FDA Reform Pioneer

    April 10, 2009
    My colleague John Berlau wrote a nice obituary of mutual fund pioneer Jack Dreyfus that was published in Investor's Business Daily earlier this week. One thing John points out that few readers are likely to have known about Dreyfus is his long-time advocacy of more liberal FDA regulation of off-label drug promotion. FDA has the statutory authority to regulate promotional materials distributed by pharmaceutical companies about their products, and the agency imposes a near-total ban on distributing information about unapproved, or so-called off-label, uses. Once FDA approves a drug for any indication, doctors are free to prescribe it for any other use. The practice is so widespread that an estimated 60 percent of all...
  • Baptist-Bootlegger Alliance on Tobacco

    April 8, 2009
    In today's Washington Examiner, Tim Carney has an excellent column on how the bill to place tobacco under FDA regulation would reduce competition in the tobacco industry and enrich the biggest company -- Philip Morris -- at the expense of consumers and competitors alike. Although the bill is supported by leading anti-smoking groups (which indirectly receive money from Big Tobacco through the $246 billion Master Settlement Agreement), the bill's...
  • Virginia Postrel on Her Own Brush with Cost-Effective Drug Research

    April 1, 2009
    One letter writer argues that Herceptin was a poor example because "Multiple cost-effectiveness analyses have shown that, despite its high cost, Herceptin is both effective and cost-effective." That, of course, was Postrel's point. She replies, "its very cost-effectiveness makes it such a striking example. New Zealand chose to ration the drug (and not to cover it at all for early-stage cancer until July 2007) despite its significant benefits."
  • Fishing for Rationality in the Beauty Salon

    March 23, 2009
    Thinking of getting one of those cool new “fish pedicures”? Well, you’d better act fast. 14 states have already banned the process. But a member of the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology says, “It seemed to me it was very sanitary, not sterile of course." But, “[s]anitation is what we’ve got to live with in this world, not sterility.”
  • An Explosion of Litigation

    March 13, 2009
    Already burdened by $8 trillion in new federal spending commitments and the likelihood of higher taxes to pay for bailouts, pork, and welfare, the economy now faces an additional threat: an explosion of litigation. Even liberal Washington Post...


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