November 9th, 2009
10:40 AM ET
5 years ago

Armey says health care reform will kill innovation

Armey says the health care reform bill will stifle innovation.
Armey says the health care reform bill will stifle innovation.

(CNN) - Dick Armey, the former House majority leader whose leadership of FreedomWorks has proved vital to organizing opposition to Democrats' health care reform efforts, told CNN Monday the recently-passed House health care bill could cripple the entire pharmaceutical industry.

"You go right back to Shakespeare, who first said, 'If it can't be sold for a profit, it's not worth writing,' or take Thomas Edison's reiteration of it, 'If it can't be sold for a profit, it's not worth inventing,'" Armey told CNN's John Roberts on American Morning. "If the government is going to control what it is, whether it can be distributed, what it is, what price it can be sold, you will disincentive the whole process of research. We've seen it before and we'll see it again."

The Texas Republican also said the government should not force health insurance companies to insure individuals who have not been responsible with their own health.

"Now [the government] comes along and says, 'Irrespective of the fact they've gone 20, 30, 40 years of their adult life without ever having bought insurance prior to getting a liver inflammation due to their excessive drinking habits or diabetes because they eat like a pig, you must now insure them,'" Armey said.

"At what point do we allow the government to order people that you must sell your product to this person or that person, irrespective of any good judgment?" he added. "We saw what happened in housing when they ordered banks to make loans to people who weren't qualified. Are we now going to have the same destructive influences in health care because we're going to order doctors to provide services and so forth?"

Armey also addressed the future of the Republican Party in light of events in a special congressional election in New York, in which conservatives pushed out the Republican running in favor of a more conservative third-party candidate. Ultimately, a Democrat carried the district, the first time in more than 125 years the party has won there.

Armey, who backed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, drew local headlines himself in that race after blasting an editorial board's questions on upstate New York issues - questions Hoffman had struggled to answer - as "parochial."

"The Conservative Party nominated the small government conservative, he got in the race late and he caught and passed her," Armey said Monday. "She dropped out, endorsed the Democrat. If the Republican Party or if the Conservative candidate had a little more time, he might have won that.

"But the Republican Party's got to decide whether or not they're going to be the 'me too' party, somewhat schizophrenic, half the party acting like us, the other half acting like them. Or are they going to be the big tent party that builds themselves around a national concept of small governance, fiscal conservatism, and has a broad appeal, as it did with Goldwater, as it did with Reagan," he said.


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soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. Wise Latina

    Typically, the state-run media is fixated on a lone Rep vote from a heavily impoverished Dem district in Louisiana that is totally dependent on receiving free handouts, and thus will always support more and more freebies.

    What about the more interesting story about the 39 Dem defectors from the Pelosi faction? Seems like there are MANY MORE Dems that see the outrageous danger represented by this insane bill than there are "conscientious" cross over Reps. Where are the stories about THOSE conscientious objectors??? This defeat is a huge embarrassment for Pelosi.

    November 9, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. Matt

    First off, Mr. Armey, when did profit become more important than lives? What about cancer, Mr. Armey? What happens if you have employer provided health insurance and get cancer while there, then after remissions you start your own business? Your new insurance that you buy, for yourself, will not cover you if the cancer comes back. Now what are you supposed to do? Die, because you don't think they took care of theirself properly?? HMMM??? Any suggestions there mister high and mighty??? I would love to see you survive on my salary or the salary of most Americans. You couldn't do it. So how about getting off your soap box, stop worrying about "me me me me me" or "money money money" and help someone else for a change, Mr. Armey?

    November 9, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Dee G. - CT Voter

    Like anybody really cares what Dick Armey thinks?!

    November 9, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Jamie

    Dick Armey is a meathead! Everything should be for profit, huh? Necessity is the MOTHER of invention you capitalist swine – not profit. Do you think early human beings developed tools and basic life necessities if there were no profit? Plus, I am sure these statements were made after they already made a 'profit' on their works- not when they were starving artist and tinkerer.

    Health care is a human right and should not be for profit!

    November 9, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. Brian

    Who is talking about limiting pharmaceutical profit? We're talking about people getting sick and needing care, not a revenue stream.

    November 9, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. NEWS?

    Why doesn't CNN disclose Dick Armey's relationships with the insurance company who pay him to make these half hearted arguments?

    Instead he's paraded as an authority on the matter with no other interest than "freedom".

    November 9, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. Jay

    And the practices of the current health insurance companies is acceptable to you? Cherry picking only health individuals to "cover" is OK? Denying people who need insurance the most is OK to you? Finding every reason to deny covering something even when you are paying premiums is OK to you?

    Shut up you lying business puppet filth. The only reason the Republican party exists today is to help greedy men and corporations continue to enslave people.

    I pray that someone you care for experiences the wrong of the industry you are so intent on protecting.

    November 9, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. Tania

    Right now, lack of health coverage for so many American families is killing people!

    November 9, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. lala

    It is obvious at this point that this man has no soul...I am also starting to question his mental health.

    Someone needs to admit him on a 5150 hold and have him evaluated...wow!

    I LOVE the rethugs and their incapacity to sound like sane individuals...they may think that they are on the cusp of a resurgence, but not so long as they allow the crazies to control their party!

    Remember, old white men are VERY SOON to be the MINORITY...so even if you have 100% support from them you will NEVER regain what you once had!

    November 9, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  10. bcords

    this disgusting pig is as dangerous as it gets with his constant fear mongering. let us not forget that this is now how he makes his living preying on the fears of senior citizens.

    November 9, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Roger in Atlanta

    Nice try bozo. The pharma industry spends just as much money on marketing as threy do on research. i promise you they will survive this just fine, and by the way in case you haven't heard...the pharma industry SUPPORTS the bill. as for supporting people with bad heath habits i assume you are in favor of cancelling health insurance for all smokers? OOPS. that would not sit well with yout tobacco industry lobbyists....guess not.

    November 9, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. Rod

    Now [the government] comes along and says, 'Irrespective of the fact they've gone 20, 30, 40 years of their adult life without ever having bought insurance prior to getting a liver inflammation due to their excessive drinking habits or diabetes because they eat like a pig, you must now insure them,'" Armey said.

    I think Dick Armey is the "PIG" and I bet he has health insurance too. I wonder why he is so againsy ALL Americans having health insurance. Could it be the millions of dollars he has taken from the health insurance companies. Hmmmm, makes you wonder!

    November 9, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  13. ThinkAgain

    Shakespeare was talking about words; Edison was talking about things.

    Health care is about PEOPLE.

    Guess we all know what Dick values the most ...

    November 9, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  14. saffta

    Among the many things which Dick Armey is NOT is a Shakespearean scholar. There is no such quote from Shakespeare. The correct quote is:
    No profit grows where no pleasure is taken.

    These right wing nuts just plain make things up!!! [Like death panels - see next article]

    November 9, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. Senior Lilarose in Oregon

    Gosh, how do other countries drug manufacturers make profits?

    They don't charge an arm and a leg for a script!

    Please explain, Mr. Armey.

    November 9, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. Fair is Fair

    It's going to kill a LOT more than innovation.

    November 9, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. Mark

    We just can't afford another one trillion dollars to our already bloated national debt!

    November 9, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. Steven Derse

    Through no fault of my own, I had childhood ear infections which have left me as an adult with a rebuilt ear, balance problems and sinus issues which insurance companies can preclude coverage for ongoing treatment. I also have had knee problems again, through no fault of my own but which insurance companies can waive coverage or increase premiums.

    Why can they do this? Because I am self employed so I now have to either accept whatever insurance my wife has been "issued" (note: not chosen as there was no choice of coverage plans) through her employer or tackle the individual market where pre-existing issues are hurting many Americans. Also, Europe has robust drug innovators as does Canada just check out latest drugs being developed and you can see German, French and Canadian manufactures thriving. Also, in those countries there is an insurance industry, although it is not-for-profit. By the way...is heath care really just a consumer "product" like shaving cream? Nice try Dick...

    November 9, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  19. Vince

    Innovation? What innovation has the health care monopoly shown in the past 50 years? Does Armey think that raising prices and shrinking coverage is innovation? Does Armey think that insurance executives should continue to make medical decisions? At least 45 thousand Americans die every year because they can't afford to see a doctor. What kind of innovation is that? Face it Mr. Armey – – the party for insurance parasites is over!

    November 9, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  20. Tom in VA

    I guess Dick Army hasn't spent any time in Europe or knows anything about medical innovation. If he did I don't think he'd make that statement about healthcare reform crushing innovation. Europe has been equal to or even better at medical innovation then the USA for quite some time. Example: the 1st commercially available MRI angiography– SIemens Germany. Electronic health records.. Europe is a decade ahead of the USA.

    Really Mr.Army... don't talk about things you know nothing of.

    November 9, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. W Spivey

    God is good. 176 GOP members and 39 Demo's are going to be collecting Unemployment benefits. YEA

    November 9, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. gwen

    Since when did the federal government force banks to give mortgages to people who couldn't afford them??? People who couldn't afford mortgages and got them anyway happened because the bush administration and past republican congresses took off regulations to make sure those kind of things didn't happen so their rich banker and wall street buddies could make more money off the backs of the middle class and poor working class. The whole reason were in the mess were in is because the regulations put on after the great depression, to prevent another depression, were slowly taken away for the benefit of banks and wall street and they did get rich for years until everything collapsed – thank god Obama was president and had the courage to push through the stimulus or unemployment would be at 25% and the economy would still not be recovering like it is (housing, manufacturing, inventories,GDP all coming back!!) Jobs are the last to react and hopefully they will come back soon – unfortunately all the jobs the republicans let big business send overseas will never come back!!

    November 9, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  23. ps

    Hey, Dick are you aware that one of the most innovative institutions in the country is a non-profit – NASA.

    November 9, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. ThinkAgain

    Once again, the Republicans' spokesman is someone who believes that only the wealthy deserve to be healthy.

    I've got mine; to heck with you! Get diagnosed with cancer, get hit by a car, give birth to a special needs child, your spouse need heat surgery?

    Tough!

    I hope that Dick learns some compassion the hard way, just like Lee Atwater did. (Lee died of brain cancer .... Hmmmm .... for Dick, how about something like ALS?)

    November 9, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  25. henry

    The GOP is in full defebsive mode and getting more rabid each day. Morons

    November 9, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
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