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February 27, 2008

Medical research funds

The letters from two individuals battling cancer correctly assert that stem cells hold promise for treating their conditions as well as other devastating diseases. However, beyond the debate over stem cells a greater roadblock exists to defeating these diseases.

Funding for the National Institutes of Health has been under siege. The budget proposed by President Bush would hold NIH funding at current levels, an effective cut since the biomedical research inflation rate is projected to be 3.6 percent for 2009.

Given similar budget scenarios over the past five years, the situation has become critical.

I serve on one of about 150 panels that judge NIH grant proposals. It is an exercise in frustration since many exciting and worthwhile projects are not being funded.

The morale among the medical research community is low, and these sentiments are filtering down to undergraduates pondering careers in science.

I think that we, as a nation, have become complacent about medical and technological advances, expecting them to continue at the breakneck pace of recent years. Right now there is a scientist who has a great idea to attack a disease that might strike you or someone you love, but who cannot do the research for lack of funding.

Joseph D. Fontes
Associate professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Kansas Medical Center
Kansas City, Kan.

Comments

Marctnts

"So, if a person is in a minimum wage job it should be, "Let the worthless creep's children die."

It appears as though you are engaging in the same extremist crap that you accuse the conservatives of. If your point must be made through fear-mongering and intelectual deceit, it probably wasn't worth making (this goes for both sides of the aisle).

I never suggested that someone's child is worth less than anothers, or that they should be allowed to die. What I have questioned, and continue to question, is where we draw the line for justifiable cost. Is is justifiable to spend $100,000 of someone else's money for a small chance to live? How about $1 million? Heck, how about $10 million. Until we change the "damn the cost, it's my health" mentality, all we can expect are vastly higher healthcare costs brought about by ever-newer and ever-more-expensive procedures and technologies.

My question still hasnn't been answered. Aside from your critism of how many employees are covered, what do you think of the Wal-Mart style of coverage itself? Again, I would find it hard to believe that more discretion, created by the requirement that people contribute more of their hard earned dollar for routine and often needless care, could be a bad thing.

jack

So, if a person is in a minimum wage job it should be, "Let the worthless creep's children die."

That about cover the "responsibility" you calim to want?

Ar are you just full of typical right-wing coverup crap?

GCYL

“It is so very hard to keep up with the beliefs of the social darwinists.” - jack

“It's not social darwinism, it's personal responsibility.” - Marctnts

I think the part about personal responsibility is what makes it so hard for jack to keep up.

jack

eng: I love poking a stick at those who claim that allowing those on minimum wage to buy health insurance is "providing" coverage. I also enjoying poking a stick at those who claim to believe that "letting the free market prioritze" (which has been suggested both here and in columns I have read) is somehow NOT rationing care.

I also enjoy poking a stick at those who want to privide all things to all people, but they seem to be a very small minority here.

"Allowing" a health savings account to someone who struggles to pay rent is not "allowing" them anything. Deciding who deserves the 10% chance at life based on how much money they have is a choice made every day in this country. It is also a case of social darwinism. Those with money are worth more care while those without are worth less.

The small problem with the Walmart system (that they seem to never mention) is that they "allow" their lowest paid employees to "purchase" this insurance through them. Of course, a whole bunch of those employees can't afford to buy the insurance in the first place. Then they claim, "Well, we offered them coverage." Gee. Thanks.

I will once again make a suggestion about the entire mess. First, we went from too much regulation of the industry to too little. Then we deregulated company retirement plans which were "overfunded" so that the employers could "recapture" the funds. The result was lousy and high priced insurance alongside bankrupt retirement programs. Now the geniuses who thought this whole thing up are saying we should do what didn't work some more. Yep, bet that'll solve it!

There are many options for getting control of the insanity that our healthcare system has become. As long as the discussion is all one side or the other, there ain't a prayer of accomplishing this.

T. Hanson

Huckelbee said something like we spend majority of our health care cost in the final 2 years of our lives (sorry for the bad paraphase).

Which would make sense, but there would be no way I would let someone come in and say "grandma and grandpa need to die now, they cost too much".

Marctnts

Additionally, do you find fault with a plan such as Wal-Mart's? I would find it hard to believe that more discretion, created by the requirement that people contribute more of their hard earned dollar for routine and often needless care, could be a bad thing.

It's not social darwinism, it's personal responsibility. We as a nation have a moral responsibility to help those who are less fortunate, not create a nation where you are "fortunate to have less".

Marctnts

jack,

I'm not suggesting that we "ration" health care. I'm not sure what about my post gave you that indication. In fact, I said the following: "Everyone should expect access to resonable level of care, not a extraordinary one."

What I'm questioning is the "damn the cost, it's my health" attitude that leads to the type of poor consumers we as a nation have become. I believe that this is part of the reason insurance rates have gone through the roof. For example, taking emotion out of the equation, is it really prudent to spend $100,000 on a procedure that has a 10% chance of extending your life? When our own dollars are on the line, many would say "No", but when it's someone else's, the answer is often "Sure, why not".

Engineer

jack
Who, where and when did anyone say anything about "preventing" anyone from having health insurance? Many have indicated they do not wish to become part of a plan where health care, at least for serious problems, is rationed and where you are prevented from spending your own funds for it as was the case in Canada until recently.

jack

Marctnts: Are you suggesting that health care be rationed? I thought that was the reason to PREVENT everyone from having insurance. So there would be no need to "ration". Oh, I get it. If someone cannot get a needed service for lack of money, that isn't rationing. It is only rationing if there is a waiting list for the service becasue too many people have access.

It is so very hard to keep up with the beliefs of the social darwinists.

Marctnts

Since when did we have a "right" to the best level of health care? I think we have a warped sense of our entitlements when it comes to this issue. No one would ever think of spending $5000 to diagnose what could end up being a $50 problem with their house or their car, but people seem to have no problem doing it when "their health" is on the line.

I think Wal-Mart (yes, that evil successful corporation) has the right idea. A good portion of the costs for routine check-ups and proceedures are paid by the employee (about 40% from what I read). In the event of catastrophic illiness, the company picks up almost all of the cost. The idea is that we are horrible consumers when it comes to health care (a few sniffles equals a $100 doctor visit and $100 of medicine). By making the employee pay more "out of pocket" for the routine stuff, they are forcing them to act with greater discretion.

If you can afford the best health care and technology money can buy, good for you. If you can't, please quit thinking that it is your right that we pay for it for you. Everyone should expect access to resonable level of care, not a extraordinary one.

Dan Beyer

Hello!? Hello KC Star!? Hello!? Anybody at the Star understand this issue has already been settled!?
Why do you keep publishing letters over a dead issue!?
See this is what happens to a newspaper that is completely out of touch with reality.
Sad, isn't it!?

 
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