For me, what’s striking about the presidential election campaign debates is how nasty even the Republican candidates generally are to health insurance companies and other financial services companies.
Dr. Ben Carson, who may well have wrestled with health insurance companies over reimbursement for neurosurgery claims, avoided a chance to slam financial services company executives on Feb. 13, during a Republican debate in South Carolina.
When a moderator asked Carson whether it’s acceptable for federal regulators to try to change financial services companies’ ways by requiring an investment company to pay a $3.2 billion over mortgage crisis-related allegations, rather than putting more executives in jail, Carson said, “We’ve got all these governments, and all they’re doing is running around looking for people to fine. … I think what we really need to do is start trimming the regulatory agencies rather than going after the people who are trying to increase the economic viability of our society.”
Marco Rubio, in contrast, has talked repeatedly about Congress putting a “bailout fund” for health insurers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
During a debate on Feb. 25, in Houston, Donald Trump said that, when he gets rid of PPACA, he will still require health insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions. “The insurance companies are making a fortune on every single thing they do,” Trump said. “Right now they’re making a fortune.”
During the same debate, Ted Cruz criticized Trump for agreeing with “Barack Obama on the Wall Street bailout.”
Over on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is campaigning for a single-payer health care system. Sanders has helped make the brand “Goldman Sachs” synonymous with “Spawn of Satan,” and has dragged Hillary Clinton into a competition over who can sound toughest about health insurers and Wall Street.
And, of course, everyone hates the drug companies.
Meanwhile, as the candidates are hurling mud, Wall Street, the health insurers and the drug companies are starting the process of eliminating hepatitis C.
On the one hand, of course it’s scandalous that drug companies are trying to charge so much for cures for hepatitis C.
On the other hand, coming up with the cash to develop new drugs is a risky, complicated business; any good drug company cost analyst can make my head spin in circles.
On the third hand, there are obviously greedy jerks involved in all of this. Maybe government researchers, university researchers and other nonprofit entity researchers could have come up with a cure on their own if the drug development process was organized a bit differently. Certainly, in many cases, robber barons rigged the system, and there are all sorts of government subsidies, constraints, cartels and other systemic flaws coating free-market forces in kleptocratic slime.
On the fourth hand, curing all of the 130 million to 150 million people in the world who have hepatitis C may take decades.
On the fifth hand: Whatever the players involved in curing hepatitis C did wrong, and whatever other players might have done better if the economic system were set up differently, the players who are in the system have developed and started selling products that could eventually cure most of the people with chronic hepatitis C and save about 500,000 lives per year.
In other words, all of those players, who, in many cases, may be covering hepatitis C drug claims, selling hepatitis C drugs for outrageous prices, investing in hepatitis C drug makers because of a desire to own a mansion that comes with its own island, and benefiting from outrageous kleptocracy, have embarked on a journey that could save the rough equivalent of the population of Sacramento, Calif., every year.
The “capitalistish” system we have is moving a mountain, right now. It’s a little sad to see no one sticking up for it.
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