Reason TV: Will ObamaCare kill medical innovation?

Nick Gillespie and Reason.tv offer this look at the attempt to strip profits from the health-care field, especially from innovators who produce new technologies, treatments, and medications. Nick takes us to a typical ObamaCare advocacy protest, which contains all of the elements we’re used to seeing by now: drums, chanting, SEIU shirts (they’re out in force at this rally), and the obligatory and ubiquitous venom aimed at profit. “It’s disgusting!” yells one protester into Reason’s microphone, while another protester clearly has little idea how profit works.

Dave Christensen does, and tells Reason how innovation saved his life:

Protesters at a recent rally in downtown Los Angeles demanded universal coverage. They told Reason.tv that America is a cruel land where profits come before people.

“It’s disgusting!” said one woman. “There should be no profits in health care!” What about those who argue that profits drive medical innovation? “I think that’s kind of sick,” declared another protester, who wants the U.S. to be more like Canada, where government policy keeps drug prices, and drug company profits, lower than in America.

Many regard the profit motive as cruel, but it actually produces compassionate results. After all, America has generated vastly more medical innovations than other nations. Included in the long list is the innovation that saved the life of Dave Christensen, construction supervisor, husband, and father. After being diagnosed with cancer, Christensen was lucky enough to be given a then-experimental drug that probably wouldn’t have been developed or brought to market in any other country in the world.

If America follows the lead of the rest of the world and clamps down on profits in health care, who will make tomorrow’s wonder drugs?

It won’t be the people beating the bongo drum and chanting jejune organizing rhymes on the street. The US, as Reason explains, is the last frontier for many innovators. Most of the pharmaceuticals fled western Europe a generation ago when those nations did what Obama proposes to do now. Innovation takes a lot of failure to produce a single success — and if innovators don’t get an opportunity to recoup their losses on the failures, no one will put up the money to get to the successes.

When everyone becomes a “free rider,” then the ride comes to an abrupt halt.