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Health Care

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, moving on to a second subject, The New York Times today has an analysis of health care which bears directly upon the legislation which will soon be considered by the Congress on comprehensive health care. The article focuses on prostate cancer, for illustrative purposes, to raise the issue that the key factor of holding down costs is not being attended to under the current system because there are no determinations as to what is affected.

The article points out that the obvious first step is figuring out what actually works. It cites a number of approaches for dealing with prostate cancer, varying from a few thousand dollars to $23,000, to $50,000 to $100,000. It notes that drug and device makers have no reason to finance such trials because insurers now pay for expensive treatments, even if they aren't effective. The article notes that the selection customarily made is the one which is the most effective.

I have talked to Senator Baucus and Senator Dodd and have written to them concerning my suggestion in this field. I ask unanimous consent that the text of the New York Times article be printed in the Record, together with my letters to Senator Baucus, Senator Dodd, and Senator Kennedy.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD

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Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, it is my view that this is a critical and arguably indispensable item to be taken up in this comprehensive health care reform--and certainly weighs heavily on my mind--and that is to fund the National Institutes of Health at the $30 billion currently as the base, plus the $10 billion in the stimulus package, for a base of $40 billion. The results from medical research have been phenomenal, with decreases in fatality to stroke, breast cancer, and many other of the health maladies. Then, to combine that with legislation which I have introduced, S. 914, the Cures Acceleration Network, which addresses the issue taken up by The New York Times, and that is to make a determination of what actually works.

There has been identified a so-called ``valley of death'' between the bench and clinical research and the bedside and application of the research. The pharmaceutical companies do not take up this issue because of the cost. This is something which ought to be taken up by the Federal Government as the dominant funder for the National Institutes of Health. So should the comprehensive health care include this issue to address, in a meaningful way, the very high costs of medical care? Certainly, if the tests make a determination that the less-expensive items are the ones which ought to be followed, that could meet the Federal standard and that could prevail.


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