I’m in the section of the book Saving Lives & Saving Money: Transforming Health and Healthcare in which Newt Gingrich praises companies and hospitals for taking steps to transform the United States’ health care system. One company that Newt praises is Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company. The reason that Newt likes Pfizer is that, in Florida, it is cooperating with the state to help Medicaid recipients with preventative care, which keeps them out of the emergency rooms and thus saves the health care system money. This partnership also taps into the knowledge and experience of doctors across the state, which Newt likes.
I was wondering where I heard the name “Pfizer” in the news. I knew it wasn’t in a positive context. When I read the wikipedia article and did a google search on Pfizer, I saw some things that rang a bell, and more. Pfizer was the company that tried to take advantage of eminent domain, resulting in the 2005 Supreme Court Kelo case, which allowed local governments to take private property for economic development. In 2012, there was controversy about whether or not Newt acted as a lobbyist for Pfizer. And, on wikipedia, I see discussion about Pfizer damaging the environment, lobbying against the prescription drug benefit and the entrance of generic drugs into U.S. markets, and supporting a ban on lawsuits against those who manufacture body implant parts. The last item made its way into proposed tort reform legislation in the U.S. Congress.
These things concern me, and they tell me that Pfizer may be part of the problem, not just part of the solution. Still, if Pfizer is working with the Florida government to promote preventative care, that’s a good thing. And, while I think that tort reform can go too far, I agree with Newt that some form of tort reform is necessary, for the fear of being sued inhibits doctors from acknowledging and correcting mistakes, as well as imposes a monetary cost on them.