Friday, May 4, 2012

Newt Gingrich's Saving Lives & Saving Money 12

I finished Newt Gingrich's Saving Lives & Saving Money: Transforming Health and Healthcare.  In this post, I'll highlight something from my latest reading, then I'll briefly state my impressions of the book as a whole.

At the end of his book, Newt talks about the prospect of a biochemical attack on the U.S.  Remember that this book was published in 2003.  I'm not sure if people are still fearing that nuclear or bio-chemical weapons could fall into the wrong hands, but that was a great fear in the early 2000's.  It was one reason that we went to war against Iraq, and the Democrats accused the Republicans of not doing enough about nuclear proliferation.

Newt hopes that America's health care system will be efficient in case a bio-chemical attack occurs.  Newt believes that the FDA "must fast-track and accelerate approval processes with priority reviews for emergency-use licensure" (page 291).  For Newt, risks should be managed and benefits should be analyzed, and "animal efficacy data" must be used instead of "human efficacy trials".  But Newt thinks that there should be tort reform that acknowledges and understands "the need for risk and benefit" (page 291).  I am not sure what Newt means here.  If the FDA approves of something that harms someone (even if it did not harm an animal who was part of a test), does Newt believe the person's right to sue for damages should be limited, since there is some risk when scientists try to come up with treatments that can help people?

In terms of my overall impressions of the book, it was all right.  Parts of it, I expected.  Newt is big on preventative care and computerization, so it did not surprise me that these issues were significant topics in his book.  I thought that he made sense on those issues.  Newt also touted some of the typical conservative proposals for health care reform, such as Health Savings Accounts and tort reform.  I think that Newt made a good case for the necessity for tort reform and the need to come up with a system that protects patients without lining the pockets of trial lawyers and driving up the cost of health care.  But I do not believe that Health Savings Accounts are much of a solution for the rising costs of health care, since health care can easily become so expensive as to wipe those accounts out.  I was expecting for Newt to write more about how special interests profit from the current system, since he mentioned that topic in debates, but he did not go into this in as much detail as I hoped.

Next, I'll read the sections on health care in Newt Gingrich's Real Change.

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