The Newt Gingrich Approach to Health Reform

Newt Gingrich speaks at CPAC on February 10, 2011.
National Journal
Sophie Novack
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Sophie Novack
Nov. 24, 2013, 7:01 a.m.

For Newt Gin­grich, health care re­form is a lot like space travel.

At a time when the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is strug­gling to im­ple­ment the pres­id­ent’s sig­na­ture health care law, and Re­pub­lic­ans have yet to co­alesce around a feas­ible al­tern­at­ive, the former Re­pub­lic­an Speak­er and cur­rent CNN Cross­fire host is com­ing for­ward with his own pro­pos­al for health care re­form.

For those who re­call his 2012 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign pitch to es­tab­lish a colony on the moon, the fact that Gin­grich’s idea is heavy on fu­ture in­nov­a­tion and light on cur­rent policy real­ity will not come as a sur­prise.

Gin­grich’s new book, Break­out, ex­plains the need to fo­cus on in­nov­at­ive sci­entif­ic re­search and cures. He sets up a du­al­ity between what he calls the “pi­on­eers of the fu­ture” and “pris­on guards of the past.” The pi­on­eers he defines as sci­ent­ists across the coun­try that are de­vel­op­ing in­nov­at­ive treat­ments; the pris­on guards are lob­by­ists, bur­eau­crats, and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, which he says in­hib­it these break­throughs.

“The slow­ness and un­will­ing­ness of CBO and OMB on the one hand, and CMS and FDA on oth­er hand, to de­vel­op and work with and be prac­tic­al about these kinds of in­nov­a­tions is a ma­jor prob­lem,” he told Na­tion­al Journ­al.

Gin­grich de­scribes the need to both ac­cel­er­ate re­search and make pa­tients more aware of their own med­ic­al in­form­a­tion. In­vest­ing in areas like neur­os­cience re­search and re­gen­er­at­ive medi­cine will save money and im­prove con­sumer health, he says.

“The po­ten­tial is so enorm­ous be­cause the cost is so great. If you want to talk about en­ti­tle­ment re­form, a break­through in Alzheimer’s saves more money in 30 or 35 years than any con­ceiv­able re­form that the Con­gress is go­ing to ad­opt,” he said. “Ima­gine a world not many years from now, where in­stead of get­ting kid­ney dia­lys­is, you’ll just get a new kid­ney. It’s cheap­er over the long run and gives you a much high­er qual­ity of life.”

Of course, Gin­grich’s idea is not ac­tu­ally an Obama­care al­tern­at­ive — in­vest­ing in in­nov­at­ive health care de­vel­op­ments does not pre­clude the need for a health care sys­tem, or for re­forms to our cur­rent mod­el. If people are get­ting new kid­neys, doc­tors still need to carry out the pro­ced­ure.

Yet while he com­pares Obama­care to the Ti­tan­ic, he says his idea could ex­ist in tan­dem with a the­or­et­ic­al GOP health care pro­pos­al, which he be­lieves is soon to come.

Gin­grich says that pre­vi­ously the Re­pub­lic­an strategy was at­tack­ing the law, fol­lowed by “star­ing in awe” at the rol­lout. “I think you’re start­ing to see from Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Can­tor and oth­ers a real ef­fort to be­gin to say look, we’re go­ing to have to come back pre­pared with our re­place­ment, not just be against Obama­care,” he said.

Gin­grich em­phas­izes the need for cit­izens to put pres­sure on their rep­res­ent­at­ives to con­vince them of the im­port­ance of his pro­pos­al.

So will this ap­proach re­ceive the same push­back as his moon colony idea?

“The ques­tion is not wheth­er or not the hu­man race is go­ing to go in­to space, the ques­tion is wheth­er or not the U.S. is go­ing to play a lead­ing role,” he re­spon­ded. “And I think the same thing is true here. You know, we’re go­ing to get to re­gen­er­at­ive medi­cine. The ques­tion is wheth­er we do it in the United States, or wheth­er we do it over­seas.”

What We're Following See More »
REPEATS CONTROVERSIAL CLAIM
Trump: Clinton “Doesn’t Have The Stamina” to be President
8 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

At the end of the debate, moderator Lester Holt asked Donald Trump if he stands by his statement that Hillary Clinton didn't have the look of a president. Trump responded by saying Holt misquoted him, instead saying that Clinton "doesn't have the stamina." Clinton responded by saying that when Trump visits 112 countries as secretary of state, he can talk to her about stamina.

WIDELY DEBUNKED CLAIM
Trump: Clinton Camp Started Birtherism
8 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Donald Trump, when pressed by Lester Holt on why he finally admitted that President Obama was born in America, repeated his widely debunked claim that it was started by Hillary Clinton.

“AFRICAN AMERICANS” ARE “LIVING IN HELL”
Conversation Shifts to Race
8 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Hillary Clinton went point by point on how race can so often determine the treatment that people receive, mentioning recent shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, calling for restored trust between communities and police, and demanding criminal justice reform. Trump responded by calling for law and order and touting his endorsements from police unions. He then said that “African Americans are living in hell,” saying they are just walking down the street and getting “shot ... being decimated by crime."

JUST AS CLINTON INVITES VIEWERS TO VISIT HER SITE
During Debate, Trump Site Appears to Be Down
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Just as Hillary Clinton was inviting debate viewers to visit her site for real-time fact checking, there appeared to be a problem with Donald Trump's own campaign website. For about a 15-minute period, a blank page or an error message appeared when we tried to load the Trump site.

INTERRUPTS CLINTON MULTIPLE TIMES
Trump Comes Out Swinging
9 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Donald Trump has come out in the first segment of this debate raring to go. Trump has interrupted nearly every answer being given by Hillary Clinton, talking over her time and again. Clinton is sticking to her guns, smiling while Trump speaks and then calling on people to go to her website and see the fact checking being done.

×