By NEWT GINGRICHA 3-year-old boy was recently diagnosed with a rare, aggressive, soft-tissue cancer in his bladder. Radiation treatment would have stunted the growth of his pelvic bones, hips and bladder and left him disabled. Radical surgery could remove his bladder, prostate and portions of his rectum. That would have left him impotent, using a colostomy bag, and urinating through another bag in his abdomen.
His parents chose a third option—a new "unproven" therapy where a proton beam precisely targeted the radiation dose so that it didn't cripple their son for life. The boy is now cancer-free and his body functions normally.
This story would seem to be an example of our health-care system at its best. But it is incompatible with the left's vision for overhauling the health-care industry.
Despite all the well-documented problems with our health-care system, the United States is still the world's leading source of medical innovation. Since 1960, the U.S. age-adjusted death rate for heart disease has declined by 54% due to advancing technology and new drugs. Pacemakers have been transformed. They once required a user to wear a backpack to monitor the device's short battery life. Today, pacemaker batteries last more than seven years and are small enough to install in the rib-cage muscle wall.
Premature babies survive in America to live full lives more often than anywhere else in the world. New drugs now arriving on the market cure once-lethal leukemia. On the horizon there are vaccines to prevent other types of cancer. Modern science and technology offer even more exciting treatments in the future for diseases like AIDS, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Standing in opposition to this world of hope is the vision of reform advanced by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. That vision would destroy the economic incentives that drive health-care innovation because it starts with a fundamental conceit: that government planners can spend health-care dollars better than patients and doctors in the marketplace. This planning is the foundation for the arbitrary insistence that spending 17% of our GDP on health care is "too much."
The new bureaucracies that would be set up to reduce health-care spending by slashing payments to doctors, hospitals, surgeons, specialists, drug companies, high-tech equipment makers and others will kill the innovation that has served us so well. The essential incentives for the huge capital investment necessary to develop breakthrough treatments will be gone. And so too will high-paying jobs that these investments create.
Indeed, the plan released by Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) last week would impose new taxes on medical device manufacturers of $40 billion over 10 years. That's more than industry venture capital investment.
Click here to read the rest.