Election 2008 - Healthcare & Pharma Prices
By Alan J Simpson
Washington, DC. Mar. 7th, 2005 ---- Anyone who believes that the next election cycle hasn't already begun doesn't know Washington. What surprises me is that key players of both parties seem to be wanting to claim credit for control of the topics that are foremost in the voters minds in 2008. It isn't terrorism, or the prolonged war we can't win in Iraq, it is the aging population and the cost and quality of their healthcare. It is already bubbling under the surface and the volcano will erupt some time in the next two years. The republicans desperately need to move the focus off Social Security, and healthcare and prescription drug costs are an ideal bogeyman.
I have to admit that I am swinging many of our resources to cover healthcare and pharmaceuticals, but that is from practical personal reasons. It is number one issue with my US and global audience and I am tired of being ripped off!
The politicians of both parties like me looking at these subjects for they see that too many changes can destroy the most profitable industry in the US economy. The grass roots voters don't see that as a bad thing.
The blinkered PR managers on the healthcare and pharmaceutical side see the media as being nasty, and they should go away and let them make their profits. Little old ladies struggling to pay for their medicines are not their concern, they want retiring rich people to be shown enjoying their highly priced retirement homes, with smiles on their faces and four hour erections.
The problem for these two industries is that they have a finite time line to show to the voters and politicians that they can both meet the needs of the American public, and to get their image out of the toilet. The Harris poll showed the Healthcare industry was regarded as downright unsatisfactory, and even though pharmaceuticals got just over 50% in the popularity stakes, they plummeted 22% since the last poll.
I have run a whole string of potential scenarios with my media colleagues and political sources, and the results are very similar, assuming there is no major issue with healthcare and cost effective supply of pharmaceuticals.
Run the same intelligence scenarios and introduce Bird Flu then the industry is really in the toilet, and will go the way of Big Tobacco and AT&T. Of course we don't know the parameters of the spread of Avian Flu over the next three years, but we do know the state of preparedness today, and the time it will take to create a shield. On many scenarios the shield will be in place when we are burying millions of dead elderly people, and baby boomers. Even if there is no global pandemic the voters and political hopefuls will remember being turned away from their clinics as there were no supplies of Flu vaccine this winter. Why will not concern them. What a great escape route for the Bush when everyone is against his social security plans.
Then there is Hilary and the Democrats. Who was it again who suggested Universal Healthcare years ago, before several million voting Americans were thrown out of medical insurance cover?