Thursday, January 8, 2009

Health Train Express--The New Engineer

Tom Daschle appears headed toward an easy confirmation as the head honcho at Health and Human Services, where he would oversee the FDA, Medicare and the NIH. Today, he had a friendly hearing before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

 imageHe is no stranger to the hall of congress, and most legislators will be very comfortable with him as the  point man, bully pulpit for health reform.

His early pronouncements offer no new panacea, however he does espouse the new politically correct  illusion of "transparency"

Daschle cataloged a bunch of problems with the health system, from the “unacceptable” figure of nearly 46 million uninsured to a “loss of confidence” in the FDA. He of course pledged to work on these problems. Here are some highlights:

Health Reform: In his prepared statement, Daschle said reform “cannot be dictated from the White House and Washington,” but instead must come from the grassroots and must be an open and transparent process. He pledged close collaboration with Congress.

His next pronouncement is focused on the Food and Drug Administration:" 

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Unfortunately, there is growing concern that the FDA may have lost the confidence of the public and Congress — much to our detriment. When Americans are nervous about eating spinach or tomatoes or cantaloupes, that’s not good for our health and it is terrible for our farmers. When nearly two-thirds of Americans do not trust the FDA’s ability to ensure the safety and effectiveness of pharmaceuticals, the result is Americans may hesitate to take important medications that protect their health. This is unacceptable."

National Institutes of Health:

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The NIH’s funding has been flat in recent years, reducing the NIH’s “buying power,” Daschle said. There’s been a sharp drop in success rates for research grant applicants, with the figure at 10% for many of the institutes, he added. The NIH has also “suffered from some instances of people putting politics before science.” He said he’ll work to “strengthen NIH.”

None  of us can do anything but wish him the 'Best of Luck" and determination.

GML

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