House Republicans have begun rolling out proposals from their Healthy Future Task Force.


The policy initiatives from the Treatments Subcommittee promote medical innovation, expedite patient access to new drugs and devices, bolster U.S. medical manufacturing, shorten and shore up reliable supply chains, and reduce patients’ drug costs.


Among other things, Medicare beneficiaries would gain an out-of-pocket cap on their drug spending. They’d spread out drug costs over a year. Seniors would share drug discounts at the pharmacy, once health plan incentives align to share their privately agreed-upon savings.


The GOP task force’s health policy efforts build on existing legislation, such as H.R. 19. They’re further developed from a market-based, proinnovation, private-sector-oriented, consumer choice and competition perspective.


In other words, the healthy future House Republicans envision stands in stark contrast to the Biden administration’s big-government, overly regulatory, punitive, restrictive, price-controls approach to health care—well, Biden’s, Pelosi’s and Schumer’s approach to everything!


One of the Republican proposals would block the use of a cruel tool of socialized health systems. Budget-fixated government bureaucrats use QALYs to rationalize denying needed medical treatment to patients in the most need.


The inhumane cruelty that governments' medical-rationing decisions are based on is “quality adjusted life years.” In English, that means if you’re too old, too young or too sick, health system bureaucrats tell you to “drop dead,” literally.


Canadian, European and other government-controlled health systems set artificially low prices on medical goods and services. These socialist medical systems then ration access to medical care as a means of coldly denying medicines and treatments that could cure, heal or protect patients in need.


The United States has seen similar playing of God by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, or ICER. One critic observes, “The greatest flaw by far in the QALY methodology is the subjective threshold value attached to a year of perfect health.”


Similarly, inhumane bureaucrats employ the fraud of “comparative effectiveness.” This means if there’s a drug or device available for a condition or disease, a new one must be comparably priced and deliver vastly stronger clinical results—despite the fact that a new entrant causes competition. Bureaucrats aren’t above manipulating clinical data to get the results they want for budget targets.


Energy & Commerce Ranking Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers has introduced the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act. This bill would prohibit use of QALYs in any federal health program.


Why’s that important? Take a young couple expecting a baby being told of underdevelopment of the fetus’s brain. Doctors don’t know if the baby will survive very long after birth, be responsive or display personality. The brave, loving parents have the baby, who requires several surgeries. A birthday later, that loved child smiles, vocalizes responses, touches sensibly—in short, brings joy to a home that didn’t know what life might be like. Whatever the outcome, they have a precious human being who bears God’s image.


Government discrimination against medically vulnerable citizens may save money, but it morally and qualitatively impoverishes a nation and its people. That’s much too costly.


As P.J. O'Rourke said, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.” Barring QALYs, price controls and rigid “comparative effectiveness” metrics from U.S. coverage and access decisions would ensure patients, doctors and innovation hold priority over number-crunching budgeteers.


If American voters turn Congress over to Republicans this fall, the new majority will be prepared with sound, constructive health policies that put patients ahead of unelected government bureaucrats, protect innovation and respect private property rights.

World IP Day, April 26 this year, marks an apt time to consider the ways intellectual property makes our lives better.


IP—patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets—secures private property rights in one’s inventions and other creative output.


IP has spurred innovation, competition and the U.S. economy. It’s the lifeblood of many industries—producing many years of research and development, leading to all forms of innovation.


For example, thanks to IP, we enjoy electrification in our homes and businesses. Associated foundational inventions power our modern conveniences. IP lies at the center of wireless technology, computer-implemented functionality such as artificial intelligence, commercial sectors such as movies, music and publications, as well as R&D-centric medical devices and biopharmaceuticals.


Like a deed to land, patents and copyrights serve as titles on newly created property. Without clear title and enforceable ownership rights, few would make improvements on property.


“In a significant number of industries, secure patent protection has enabled the entry of entrepreneurial innovators backed by outside risk capital—a potent combination that can challenge existing technological paradigms, threaten market leaders, and drive high-intensity innovation ecosystems,” writes University of Southern California law professor Jonathan Barnett.


An Example of IP’s Blessings

How does this play out? As one example, take biopharma.


The industry marshaled all hands on deck, developed, produced and began distributing sophisticated, novel COVID-19 vaccines in less than one year. COVID medicines and tests are widely deployed, with more than 20 billion COVID vaccine doses available this year and new medicines on the way. IP made such remarkable progress possible.


Meanwhile, biopharma innovators remain hard at work addressing antimicrobial resistance with new types of antibiotics. They’re hard at work on drugs to treat Lou Gehrig’s and other diseases and have created hepatitis C cures. Even cures for such diseases as HIV and cancer are budding, thanks to gene therapy.


Biopharma’s R&D/advanced manufacturing ecosystem and the resulting innovation are fueled by IP and partnerships. These result from sound tech transfer policies in place for decades.


Anti-IP types led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Lloyd Doggett seek to hijack the Bayh-Dole Act’s narrow march-in authority. This tech transfer law’s march-in isn’t authorized for product price. Abusing march-in threatens Bayh-Dole’s decentralized technology transfer and commercialization decisions for inventions from federal basic research grants. Such misuse would render IP rights uncertain and, therefore, the IP unattractive to investors.


It’s crucial to realize that IP-backed, democratized tech transfer activity fuels U.S. competitiveness and jobs. Threats of misapplied march-in put these benefits, along with resulting products and practical applications, at risk.


The biopharma sector outperforms many other industries economically. Biopharma firms provide more than 900,000 U.S. jobs and support another 3.5 million domestic jobs. The more than 1,500 pharmaceutical facilities are located in 47 states.


Their workers average more than $145,000 in salary and benefits. Worker productivity exceeds the average worker by three and a half times. Biopharma’s total share of U.S. economic output at 3.7 percent surpasses $1.4 trillion and accounts for 3.4 percent of GDP.

 

In short, IP-reliant R&D rocks—technologically, economically, across society. Still, some people can’t see the IP forest for the trees of their envy, short-sightedness or biases.


Considering IP’s critical role in incentivizing innovation, you realize just how profound is IP’s contribution to human progress, health and happiness. World IP Day is a good time to remember the countless, tremendous contributions IP has made to improving the human condition.

In 2007, Idaho couple Michael and Chantell Sackett prepared to build a house in an existing subdivision. They broke ground and began excavation and backfilling on their lot. That’s when the long arm of environmental regulators reached in.


To grasp what happened, you need to know that this plot of land isn’t connected to any navigable waters. It’s across the road from existing houses and, beyond that a little distance, from Priest Lake. The Sackett property isn’t linked in a watery way to the lake.


Bureaucrats applied Clean Water Act regulations’ “navigable waters” and “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) vagueness to the Sacketts’ land, despite the absence of surface waters, such as a creek, conjoining.


Fifteen years later, the Sacketts are once again taking their case against this regulatory taking to the U.S. Supreme Court. Conservatives for Property Rights has joined with the Atlantic Legal Foundation and the Committee for Justice on an amicus brief supporting the Sacketts.


In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers claimed the Sacketts’ property is a “wetland” in their prodigious interpretation of the Clean Water Act. The agencies ordered work to halt and the land owners to return the plot to its natural condition—or face huge fines.


From 2008 to 2012, the Sacketts fought in court for the right to challenge the EPA-Corps ruling. The couple won that question at the U.S. Supreme Court.


From then till 2019, district court litigation crawled along over the question of the EPA’s and Corps’ control under the CWA over this plat of dry land. The district court and the Ninth Circuit ruled for the Administrative State; the Supreme Court has taken the case on appeal.


The bottom line is that these bedeviled property owners have owned a vacant parcel of land in a developed neighborhood since 2004, and regulatory caprice has blocked the owners from developing their property, making any improvements on it or deriving any economic benefit from their land, all because of a too-flexible, arbitrary rule and excessive bureaucratic discretion. This exemplifies just what the Administrative State is and how it rolls.

The appellants have asked SCOTUS to address whether the standard from the Justice Scalia-authored plurality opinion in Rapanos v. United States (547 U.S. 715 (2006)) should apply instead of the Justice Kennedy-written opinion the lower courts chose. The high court seems inclined to weigh the proper legal test for the WOTUS regulatory regime.


The Rapanos plurality opinion standard is “wetlands with a continuous surface connection to bodies that are ‘waters of the United States’ in their own right,” whereas the Kennedy concurrence opts for a nebulous “significant nexus” of wetland to navigable water (emphasis added).


The Atlantic Legal-CPR-Committee for Justice amicus brief urges SCOTUS to adopt the clearer, more fact-based “surface connection” standard “as a necessary condition for establishing Clean Water Act jurisdiction over wetlands.”


This approach employs the legal canon of constitutional avoidance. It would reduce the risk of triggering Fifth Amendment Takings Clause concerns in EPA-Corps’ uncompensated regulatory takings every time the agencies unilaterally prohibit use of private property via loosey-goosey CWA regulations.


This case holds broad constitutional and property-rights importance for all land owners, including private citizens, farmers, ranchers and other business owners. Here’s hoping the court goes with the clearer “continuous surface connection” rule.

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