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The war on cancer a prelude to national health care

Editor’s note: Could this be what is in our future, should the government public plan and single payer system evolve from today’s healthcare debate? We should be sure that we think carefully about the ramifications.

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SO HOW’S THAT WAR ON CANCER GOING? Grant System Leads Cancer Researchers to Play It Safe.

The cancer institute has spent $105 billion since President Richard M. Nixon declared war on the disease in 1971. The American Cancer Society, the largest private financer of cancer research, has spent about $3.4 billion on research grants since 1946.

Yet the fight against cancer is going slower than most had hoped, with only small changes in the death rate in the almost 40 years since it began.

One major impediment, scientists agree, is the grant system itself. It has become a sort of jobs program, a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with the understanding that the focus will be on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer.

This is exactly what one might have predicted from a big government program of this sort, of course. On the other hand, big private entities get bureaucratized, too: “The private American Cancer Society follows a similarly cautious path. Last year, it awarded $124 million in new research grants, with some money coming from large donors but most from events like walkathons and memorial donations.”

Key bit: “There is no conversation that I have ever had about the grant system that doesn’t have an incredible sense of consensus that it is not working. That is a terrible wasted opportunity for the scientists, patients, the nation and the world.”

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June 28, 2009 - Posted by | Creative disruption, Economics of Health care, Federal Government, Health care delivery | , , ,

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