By Diane Archer
Jim Tananbaum, a former biotech executive and the founder and CEO of Forsite Capital, explains in a recent op-ed for STAT News why pharmaceutical companies should support Medicare for All, not fight it. Tananbaum says they need Medicare for All; they are making a “huge mistake” to oppose it.
Medicare for All will promote important innovations that commercial health plans never will. Commercial insurers depend on annual returns. So, paying for emerging treatments, such as gene-based therapies that could prevent someone’s death a decade later, are not a smart business investment for them. They get no returns from buying this costly care.
Put differently, employers will have no interest in paying commercial health insurers to cover medicines with the potential to help their employees down the road. We need Medicare for All in order to have a health care system that supports these treatments. Only a government health plan has reason to pay for long-term health outcomes.
Moreover, employers no longer hire employees for a lifetime. And medicines no longer cost relatively little. So, employers are hard-pressed to justify covering costly medicines that do not make a difference in their employees’ lives in the near term. There is no likely return on investment.
Before long, we may be able to tell who among us is at high risk for cancer and stroke and other complex conditions. But, paying for treatments to extend people’s lives will only save money over the long term. It is the government, not commercial health insurers or employers that will invest in these treatments. Only the government has a stake in the future.
These treatments are very different from preventive care services that health plans cover today. Preventive care is not costly. And, it is often aimed at protecting the public health as well as people’s individual health. If insurers were to cover gene therapies, the copays would be so high as to be unaffordable to virtually everyone.
The pharmaceutical and biotech industries need the government to support new gene therapies. If not, Americans will fall even further behind other wealthy countries when it comes to the health of its citizens.
Medicare for All is a solution that could help the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.
Diane Archer is founder and president of JustCareUSA, a digital media enterprise promoting the health and economic security of boomers and older adults.
This article originally appeared on JustCareUSA. Republished with permission