Matthew Holt

Kamen: Healthcare Debate “Backward Looking”

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Segway inventor Dean Kamen thinks the wonkish debate over healthcare reform in Washington is largely missing the point. In an interview with Popular Mechanics editor-in-chief James Meigs and deputy editor Jerry Beilinson, Kamen tells the magazine:

“We now live in a world where technology has triumphed, in many ways, over death. The problem with that is that it’s enormously expensive. And big pharmaceutical giants and big medical products companies have stopped working on stuff that could be extraordinary because they know they won’t be reimbursed, according to the common standards. We’re not only rationing today; we’re rationing our future. ““If you project forward these horrific costs of treating everybody and you want to assume we are not going to respond to that by making the therapies better, simpler and cheaper and in some cases completely wiping out the [diseases], well you know what? We might actually get to that situation—if we stop investing in technology, if we stop believing that the future ought to be better than the past. ““If somebody in this country wants to explain to me that we ought to be spending about twice as much supporting sports as on all of our pharmaceuticals, then stop spending.”  “I think this debate shows a fundamental lack of vision, a lack of confidence, a lack of understanding of what’s possible.”

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GoMotionFloyd MorellJC ByrneHans BorchardtPeter Recent comment authors
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GoMotion
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Floyd Morell
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Floyd Morell

Would you please read this Wall Street Journal article by Ellen Schultz and help me in my attempt to stop the injustice to those of us on Social Security? Thank you. With my health after two cancers, I am not sure how long I have, but I want to help change this in any way I can. I am not asking to use my name or be specific about one case. But this system needs changing.
Floyd Morell
http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748704479704575061702246038506-lMyQjAxMTAwMDEwMzExNDMyWj.html

JC Byrne
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JC Byrne

The healthcare debate was a dog and pony show with Obama the self appointed ring master. When Mitch McConnell pointed out halfway through the morning session of the ‘healthcare debate’ that the Democrats had spoken for 52 minutes and the Republicans 34 minutes, President Obama replied that opening remarks had consumed a disproportionate amount of time and “I am the President”. Let’s drop this ‘Mr. President’ stuff and just call him ‘Your Excellency’.

Hans Borchardt
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We need competition at the user level. To have competition, people need to see prices. Therefore —
Proposal: Require medical service providers to post their prices as a condition for Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement.
The proposal requires only an addition to the Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement regulations. Technically easy, politically challenging.
With current health care costs at about $ 2.5 trillion dollars a year, even a modest competitively driven reduction in costs would have significant benefits for our economy. For details, see http://teapartydelawaremot.org/

Peter
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frank t
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frank t

I can only see the goverment next health care program as a take off of the movies as logans run and siolent green.

maryann
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maryann

Jon C, I have to agree with you, particularly on point #4. It amazes me how much noise (and, more importantly, misinformation) has been generated in this health care debate; I couldn’t really articulate my frustration until I read an equally good piece by Baltimore Sun writer Jean Marbella.
With so much noise and misinformation, is it really possible to come to a consensus on health care reform?

Gman
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Gman

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/weekend-opinionator-a-sick-debate/ August 7, 2009, 8:13 pm Weekend Opinionator: A Sick Debate By Tobin Harshaw Comments: 12. August 8, 2009 1:57 am I have lived in Europe, the USA (NYC and FLA) and currently live in Canada. I am a reasonably well-informed financial executive. I make my living as a capitalist. I wouldn’t know where to begin re: the health care debate but I will make a couple of observations: 1. The USA has the finest health care in the world — bar none — provided that you have a no-limit gilt-edged money is no object health plan. Or you are… Read more »

Nate
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Nate

Analogously, in medical care, therapies become better, more complex and far more expensive. The normal economics, as many have observed on THCB, simply do not apply.
bev this only applies to services paid by third parties. Medical care paid by the consumers has seen termindous advancement in technology and reduction in price. Lasik surgeries, cosmetic surgery and dental work. This would seem to imply the payment of care might have a major role in the cost.

Peter
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Peter

“and many other devices used in the treatment of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other conditions.”
Mostly ALL preventable with diet, exercise, stress reduction and avoiding contact to carcinogens. Just simple stuff without the need for complicated and expensive technology.

bev M.D.
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bev M.D.

“If you project forward these horrific costs of treating everybody and you want to assume we are not going to respond to that by making the therapies better, simpler and cheaper….” (Kamen) My husband uses a Segway as a disability device and, although he loves its functionality for his particular problem, observes that they have NOT become cheaper nor simpler. He believes that part of the reason they have not caught on is their inaffordability for most people. Perhaps Mr. Kamen should take note. Analogously, in medical care, therapies become better, more complex and far more expensive. The normal economics,… Read more »

Kevin J.
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Kevin J.

Matthew, You’ve started a nice little blog here, but if you don’t understand what Kamen is saying, you might want to look in the mirror. Judging from your typical slant, it’s much more likely you’re intentionally attempting to distort what he’s trying to say, starting with your characterization of him as simply a Segway inventor. If you had actually read the article linked above, it would have been hard for you to miss this nugget of germane information: Popular Mechanics editor-in-chief James Meigs and deputy editor Jerry Beilinson recently interviewed inventor Dean Kamen for a future issue of PM. Kamen,… Read more »

Peter
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Peter

Matthew, I re-read his piece and also don’t understand what his point is – except to say technolgy will save us IF we spend tons of money on payback of “innovators”.
The Segway actually made our health worse by giving us even more reason not to walk. Technology is not the answer, just plain old proper eating, exercise and stress reduction.

Nate
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Nate

Rick, When you don’t tell the other team where the game is they can’t be expected to show up. Maybe your not familiar with the legislative process in this country but Congress is suppose to propose a bill, debate it, then vote on it, there is an adorable cartoon if you need more detail. The Bill is being rushed through and cramed down the public’s throat. Until there is a bill, and not even fully then, you can’t debate it. What we discussed in committee 18 months ago has zero meaning when something different is written into the bill, or… Read more »

Matthew Holt
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I have no idea what Kamen is talking about. Worse, I sat through a talk he gave at Aspen Health Forum where it was clear that he didn’t know what he was talking about either. That’s OK, I wouldn’t know how (or why) to invent a Segway, but just because he did, somehow it gives him license to spout crap about the health care system. In any event I did gather that he’s in the select minority who believe that we don’t spend enough on health care, and further that we should spend more because we spend too much on… Read more »