Advertisement
Gene Tools
Gene Tools

Obamacare Will Affect Research

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Barack Obama's health care reform law contains key provisions that will impact US science funding in the years to come.

By | June 29, 2012

image: Obamacare Will Affect Research US Supreme CourtWikimedia Commons, ©Jarek Tuszynski

US Supreme CourtWIKIMEDIA COMMONS, ©JAREK TUSZYNSKI

In an historic moment, the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 yesterday (June 28) to uphold President Barack Obama's health care reform law—colloquially known as the Affordable Care Act—by declaring the law's so-called "individual mandate," which levies a tax or fine if individual citizens fail to carry health insurance, constitutionally valid. Though it is the general public that will feel the main impact of the health care law, the legislation also includes key provisions, protected by today's ruling, that benefit biomedical research.

"With this ruling, what we have is the turning of a page and a new chapter," said Mary Wooley, CEO of science advocacy group Research!America. "It is time to be talking about research and innovation as a major driver in health care."

The key provisions that have a bearing on the lives and work of biomedical researchers include the establishment of a streamlined US Food and Drug Administration pathway for the approval of generic versions of protein-based drugs, so-called biosimilars; the creation of a translational research initiative at the National Institutes of Health called the Cures Acceleration Network; the launch of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which would require pharmaceutical and device makers to disclose all payments greater than $10 to physicians, and a push to increase funding for comparative effectiveness research.

Had the individual mandate been struck down by the court, these other parts of the law would have likely fallen to the wayside. "It would have been a little different because we would have had a little more of a sense of going back and starting over," noted Wooley. "It may be that we can move more quickly to prioritize research and innovation now."

Meanwhile, two powerful trade organizations representing the biotech and pharmaceutical industries reacted to the Court's ruling more lukewarmly, restating that they'll fight the health care law's establishment of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which will have the power to make changes to the Medicare program without the need for an act of Congress, as was previously required.

Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), said that his group supports the broad goals of the legislation, but opposes the creation of the IPAB. "BIO will continue to work with relevant federal and state agencies to ensure implementation of the law in a manner that helps enable the US biotech community’s continued development of lifesaving cures and other medical breakthroughs while expanding patient access to these critical cures, medicines and innovations," he said in a statement. "In addition, BIO will continue to support efforts to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which threatens patient access to needed cures and medical breakthroughs."

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) echoed those sentiments. "We respect the Court’s decision and recognize that there will be ongoing policy discussions about the future of health care in America, and about the impact of today’s decision on the health care law. We will work with Congress and the Administration on a bipartisan basis to address these important issues and will continue to advocate for an environment that fosters medical innovation and access to new medicines," said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani in a statement. "We will also continue to work for necessary changes to the Affordable Care Act, such as the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).”

Advertisement
The Scientist
The Scientist

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

June 29, 2012

What I have not seen in the media, with all this "doom and gloom" about the impact of the Affordable Care Act, is that we are already paying a "tax" on health care in both our insurance and the cost of care - because we are currently paying, as individuals, for all those people who don't have health care.  The only way to turn our economy around is to start looking for the positives in things instead of always dreading the future.  It is bad psychology and it's bad business policy.  

Avatar of: Malafactor

Malafactor

Posts: 2

June 29, 2012

 Not about dreading the future unless it's the unmitigated rise of socialism, which should never be. The ACA will prevent small businesses from growing past 50 employees, I know personally several companies who won't grow past their 48 employee's.

Avatar of: Joe Buckley

Joe Buckley

Posts: 1457

June 29, 2012

There are many reporting and compliance thresholds that kick in at particular level, The question is not will it stop a company recruiting the 49th employee, Its whether it will stop it recruiting ten or twenty more if their business justifies it. My guess is it won't.  

As a UK citizen who used to live in the US, and paid far more for Health Insurance (in the late 1980's) than my share of the NHS costs now, I cannot believe how long it has taken the US to inch timidly towards a 'proper' healthcare system.

Avatar of: LouiseM

LouiseM

Posts: 6

June 29, 2012

  " it's the unmitigated rise of socialism, which should never be."  How does making everyone purchase insurance from for-profit companies constitute Socialism? Can  you define "socialism" for us? It seems as if socialism has become anyone activity undertaken by a society as a whole to provide for some socially-based goal. That's not socialism - that's government.

As far as socialism being "something that should never be," there are two responses. First, the governments of Europe such as Iceland,the UK, the Benelux, the Scandinavian, and the German-are just as free, just as democratic, far fairer in their income equality. They provide health care to all their citizens because it is in the nation's interest, just as it is in a nation's interest to have a tax system that supports the existence of a middle class, and to prosecute financial malefactors. This is "socialism" by the American Right's definition - and they are doing much better than we are from the standpoint of their citizens.

Secondly, WHY is socialism "something that must never be"? That is pure ideology speaking - a certainty of a position, without having examined it at all. Perhaps you should try the mental exercise of arguing the opposite. What are the *benefits* of a government that has a Progressive tax system? The uses it national powers to help its populace stay healthy, employed, well-fed, housed, and educated?

You speak from the certainty of the ill-informed.

Avatar of: MrEdmonton

MrEdmonton

Posts: 9

June 29, 2012

 So you are saying that these companies have insufficient growth potential that their increased profits from expanding would be able to cover the cost of providing health care to their employees?
  Sounds like not very good small businesses to me.

Avatar of: carol_ball

carol_ball

Posts: 1

June 29, 2012

"Obamacare" is a derogatory moniker given to the Affordable Care Act.  I cannot believe TheScientist would be so political when the article itself is factual and unbiased.

Avatar of: Brian Jay Stewart

Brian Jay Stewart

Posts: 1457

June 29, 2012

I note that you have two industry groups expressing their opposition to IPAB, but you give a one (confusing and potentially misleading) sentence explanation about what IPAB is--nothing about how and why it came about, and what proponents have to say.  That doesn't strike me as the most responsible way of doing journalism.

Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia:

"IPAB was created as a strengthened version of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
(MedPAC), a body with no regulatory power that solely advises Congress,
but can not enact regulations in and of itself. Since 1997, MedPAC had
recommended cuts totaling "hundreds of billions of dollars" to Medicare
that were ignored by Congress.[2]
Also, Congress has pressured Medicare administrators to cover
"ineffective or needlessly costly methods of care", while Medicare's
founding legislation says "Nothing in this title shall be construed to
authorize any Federal officer or employee to exercise any supervision or
control over the practice of medicine".[3] Henry J. Aaron, a health care expert at the Brookings Institution,
says that many observers see that some in Congress are "in thrall to
campaign contributors and producers and suppliers of medical services"
and most are not well enough informed to wisely use Medicare's buying
power to reform health care.[3] The idea behind the IPAB was to take power away from Congress (and special interests[4]) in order to give it to those knowledgeable in health care policy.[5]"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...

With this in mind, it seems pretty clear why these industry groups want to keep costs high for the taxpayer by making it nearly impossible to optimize Medicare.

Avatar of: Bioemeritus

Bioemeritus

Posts: 4

June 29, 2012

One thing about the ACA that has not been mentioned is its effect on genomic  testing.  Personal genomics and genome-related pharmacology is growing faster than Moore's Law.  As more and more genomic signals related to disease are discovered, it will rapidly fulfill its diagnostic potential.  However, the genome privacy question vis a vis insurers has always loomed large in peoples' minds.  If an insurer knew my genome and its disease tendencies, would I be refused coverage or dropped from coverage?

With the ACA's prohibition of bias against preexisting conditions and against dropping insured customers, this fear has been removed.  We should look forward to a rapid expansion and acceptance of this 21st century diagnostic tool.

Avatar of: Malafactor

Malafactor

Posts: 2

June 29, 2012

 Why has has the 'fear' been removed? You do know if the Government knew any predisposition to a disease it's very likely they would cut any care you may receive, to manage costs. Heck it happens in Canada already without genomics.

Avatar of: Bioemeritus

Bioemeritus

Posts: 4

June 29, 2012

I guess anti-government paranoia is as rampant on this site as on any other internet site.

Avatar of: MrEdmonton

MrEdmonton

Posts: 9

June 29, 2012

Really? What predispostions are those? I live in Canada and have never heard of cutting care based on predispositions.
If you are going to say something like that, give us some facts.

Avatar of: this society is nuts

this society is nuts

Posts: 1457

June 29, 2012

Baloney.  If any entity would tend to cut care based on predispositions, it's private insurance companies, not the gov't.  Why? Because that's the MISSION of private companies--to put cost/profit considerations above all else.  The only entity that can be expected to consider people above costs is a system that is not run on a for-profit basis: i.e. the govt.

Avatar of: IkeRoberts

IkeRoberts

Posts: 9

June 29, 2012

Of course BIO would be opposed the mechanism for keeping pharmaceuticals affordable by limiting pharma's current exploitive pricing. Their mock concern for patients is disingenuous. Their sense of entitlement to everyone's money runs deep and reveals itself in their policy approach.

Avatar of: rjreinhard

rjreinhard

Posts: 1

June 29, 2012

Within the ACA is another important boon to research which has already started to issue important research grants to improve comparative effectiveness study and healthcare, the newly created Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, ncely described at:
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/1...
If the law had been overturned, so would this new significant research program. Don't knock it.

Avatar of: jlpate

jlpate

Posts: 1

June 29, 2012

I always applaud the way that "The Scientist" covers the news and science in a format that everyone can quickly and easily use to keep abreast of developments in many fields. But, shame on you for resorting to partisan media hype. It is the Affordable Health Care act, not 'Obamacare'.

Avatar of: help find a cure

help find a cure

Posts: 1457

June 29, 2012

check out this research group ....out of the University of Washington
http://boinc.bakerlab.org/rose...

Avatar of: Ray Green

Ray Green

Posts: 2

June 29, 2012

Mr. Grant reveals ignorance or just plain conservative bias by referring to the "Affordable Care Act" as a "colloquial" term.  The colloquial term for the law, used frequently and pejoratively by conservatives, is "Obamacare".  The formal name of the law is the "Affordable Care Act", which should have been used in the title of his article.

Avatar of: TheSciAdmin

TheSciAdmin

Posts: 56

June 29, 2012

 Hi Ray,

Thanks much for reading. Actually, the formal name of the legislation that was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010 is the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," which was later amended by the "Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010," signed into law on March 30, 2010.

The term "Obamacare" was used in the headline purely in the interest of brevity. Any revelation of ignorance and/or bias was completely unintentional.

Thanks again,

Bob Grant

Avatar of: Ray Green

Ray Green

Posts: 2

June 29, 2012

Thanks for the clarification Bob, I've learned something today, which makes it a good day. 

From now on, I will be sure to use the correct reference:  The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. 

And I will continue to patiently correct my Republican friends, who like to reduce things to simple, misleading and derogatory terms like "taxes" and "Obamacare".

Ray

Avatar of: RobertD

RobertD

Posts: 1457

June 29, 2012

As others have already pointed out, this is an oddly slanted article coming from The Scientist.  Moving past the inappropriate term "Obamacare," what are the ominous provisions that will "impact US science funding in the years to come?"  The two mentioned in the third paragraph that actually impact funding are "creation of a translational research initiative" and a "push to increase funding of for comparative effectiveness research."  if this is an attempt to make the article more relevant to what is presumably a research-oriented audience, it's pretty weak.

Avatar of: RobertD

RobertD

Posts: 1457

June 29, 2012

repeat comment deleted

Avatar of: Michael Koren

Michael Koren

Posts: 1457

June 29, 2012

The ACA, now characterized as a tax bill by the Supreme Court, is a hodgepodge of different initiatives with the common thread that the Federal Government takes greater control of the logistics of medical research and patient care. My fear is that political agendas and bureaucratic priorities will replace market forces as the driver of health care product development.
 
It is hard to see how innovation will be enhanced by a bill that mandates, as examples, free breast pumps as part of all health plans and requires manufacturers to report the number of bagels delivered to doctors officers. The Sunshine Act, in particular, is a complete disaster for research and should be repealed. Ther current law, which should have been implemented in January 2012 based on the ACA, requires companies to report the grants awarded to institutions to be attributed to an investigator - even though he or she typically personally receives only a small portion of the grant if any. It also requires manufacturers to report, as a "benefit", travel to required investigator meetings - meetings that most investigators would be happy to ignore except for government regs.  There is also a SUnshine Act  requirement that third parties acting on behalf of sponsors disclose their payments to physicians. This will place a burden on investigators if they use research funds to compensated colleagues for things as simple as reading an X-ray as part of a trial. What a colossal waste of time and energy!
 
   

Avatar of: dehdeh

dehdeh

Posts: 28

June 30, 2012

On the contrary, The Sunshine Act is vital and needed.  Patients really should know whether big Pharma - or any other profit maker -  has been convincing our doctors to do things.  Don't you want to know who influences your health care?  Or are you telling us to trust in big Pharma?
And isn't it about time that the big insurance companies begin to be regulated to prevent them making profits by refusing to pay claims?

Avatar of: Roy Niles

Roy Niles

Posts: 32

June 30, 2012

Obamacare is a good and proud name for this new system.  It's destined to be a very workable system, and to compare it with an actual government run system, when it's basically government regulated but privately run, is the usual deceptive tactic of Republicans and their like with the old 'pull up your bootstraps by yourselves' attitudes.  I personally have used an HMO (Kaiser) for 50 years.  Try it, you'll like it.  The only government employees are its patients.

Avatar of: Raman

Raman

Posts: 1457

June 30, 2012

I do understand cost-recovery and breaking-even and the like.  As long as, some basic principles are kept in focus [civility, fairness, health-centricity and harmony to name a few], the bottom-line will take care of itself.  I am assuming that the human tendency to inquire will never fade away.  I am assuming that business is seriously sincere about being customer-centric; if this is true, they will make it their business also, to lobby the Government properly, so that rules are cleaned out and and the system efficient.  If the Industry is money-centric only, then it cannot hope to have the reputation that it wants to claim.  May the Lord bless the deluded to overcome their delusions!

Avatar of: Raman

Raman

Posts: 1457

July 1, 2012

I think it is time for President Obama to tell our Citizens that it is NOT ObamaCare or ObamneyCare. He should call it "American HealthRight Care Act"!  And Repeat this Mantra, not just during his reElection campaign or his presidential term.., but until he breaths his last breath!  Promote "My Rights! My Responsibilities!  My Health! My Life!".... Otherwise, we will have to face "My Funeral!" :-)

July 1, 2012

Not sure what you find "inappropriate" about the term Obamacare.

While it was first used derisively by bitter political opponents of the policy of reform in general and of President Obama personally, its proponents, including those who support Obama, have embraced it.  It will proudly become part of the lexicon just as FDR's "New Deal' and LBJ's "Great Society."

if this is an attempt to make the article more relevant to what is presumably a research-oriented audience, it's pretty weak

I suppose it all depends on how you define the term research.

While it might not be immediately apparent that researchers in the basic sciences, say biomedical researchers involved in studying mechanisms in molecular or cellular biology, might benefit from the implementation of reform, certainly over time (less than five years?) there should be significant effects in a top-down manner.  The mechanisms that get studied at the molecular and cellular level must certainly be directed by discoveries made from having new groups of subjects brought into the health care monitoring and preventative care system.  Those who structured Obamacare and have an incentive to see that it proves its worth. particularly in bringing down costs of health care by focusing on prevention of illness rather than waiting for symptoms requiring treatment, will support programs that broaden that paradigm related to prevention entirely.  Educational programs will be established to inform the public on how to be fit and how to prepare a proper diet, but those educational programs will see continuous modification and research results come to a consensus about what fitness and a good diet are.

Avatar of: RobertD

RobertD

Posts: 1457

July 5, 2012

Not to be pedantic, but it is slipshod journalism to refer to the Affordable Health Care for America Act (or HR 3962) as "Obamacare," a term coined by the Republicans and intended to be derogatory.  You then refer to the act as "colloquially known as the Affordable Health Care Act."  Since "colloquial" means "informal," you would be well served to swap the terms in the article, or even better served to drop the informal term all together.

Follow The Scientist

icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube

Stay Connected with The Scientist

  • icon-facebook The Scientist Magazine
  • icon-facebook The Scientist Careers
  • icon-facebook Neuroscience Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Genetic Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Cell Culture Techniques
  • icon-facebook Microbiology and Immunology
  • icon-facebook Cancer Research and Technology
  • icon-facebook Stem Cell and Regenerative Science
Advertisement
The Scientist
The Scientist
Advertisement
The Scientist
The Scientist
Life Technologies