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. Chris

    If one were to apply Mr. Armey's logic to existing government programs, defense contractors should have their innovation stifled because they're not operating at a profit. I seriously doubt that is the case! Also by Mr. Armey's logic, people who "eat like a pig" (his words) should be left to die from diabetes. So much for "death panels" - it's Mr. Armey's job to decide who lives and dies. It appears that his positions defy both experience and the Hippocratic oath.

    November 9, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. Adam

    Gotta love that Dick Armey. At least now, at the end of the game, he's finally being honest. It's not about a grassroots uprising, and it's not about taking away personal liberties of the uninsured by forcing them to have health coverage. Nope... it's really about, and has always been about, the "rights" of insurance companies to make grotesque profits without limits. And as their hired spokesperson, Mr. Armey is finally coming out and saying it: it's your own friggin' fault if you get sick. Why should the poor, starving insurance companies have to pay for your thoughtlessness? Don't you realize you're hurting their profits when you get sick? How dare you!

    Thanks, Dick, for finally dropping all pretense and letting us know what you're really all about.

    November 9, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  3. Travis

    He's right. No compitition, no reward, no inspiration. Thats socialism for ya

    November 9, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Southern gal

    pPlease do not pass judgement on those who have never had health insurance. You do not know them or their story. That's racism against the poor.

    November 9, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. Anonymous

    This is coming from a man who said he would fight till his last dieing breath to stop the raising of the minimum wage.

    November 9, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. michael

    is this guy serious? this is exactly why republicans lost the presidential election...they're completly out of touch with reality. so, if insurance companies dont cover people that have medical conditions, who's has to do it? TAX PAYERS! sick people without health insurance aren't going to just stay home and die, they're going to walk into the hospital and get help and taxpayers pay for it. i have no problem with health insurance companies actually having to take responsiblity and do what they're supposed to do.....provided health insurance. this is why democrats are mandating that everyone have health insurance, so that health insurance companies can still make a profit while insuring people that have excessive medical problems. it's common sense. guess that's too much for republicans to understand.

    November 9, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. Karl Warrington

    Army doesn't know he's talking about. My dad is a scientist and he has found in years of research that countries that rely on the private sector for innovation have the least innovation. R&D in the health care industry is often slow and benefits may not be seen for years, investors are not too keen on slow. This where government grants come in to help innovation along.

    November 9, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. Freedomics

    While I agree that insurance companies shouldn't be forced to insure individuals who have been careless about their health, how can we possibly make that determination? With auto insurance it's easy by looking at the individual's driving record (chargeable accidents, tickets, etc.) But how do you objectively do this with health insurance, especially when it is the insurer who makes the call?

    November 9, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. RobK

    So, I have to pay for the health insurance for some fat slob, who sits on his butt watching TV all day, eating Big Macs. Great. Perhaps the Dems should do the same for car insurance. Give everyone insurance at the same price, no matter what their driving record or how they take care of their car.

    November 9, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. chenna_benna

    This is what these wingnuts do. They say that health care reform will kill everything. First it will kill the private sector and then grandma. Now they are saying it will kill innovation as if that know or understand what that is. Wingnuts like Palin and Dick Army are using fear to gin up the fringe of the right. They have no facts to back their claims, so they use crazy scare tactics to justify their logic.

    November 9, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. GI Joe

    Why are the republicans so protective of insurance company profits?

    (HINT – money for political PACs for themselves).

    November 9, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. Reagan was wrong

    These people (Armey, Palin, Limbaugh, etc) are interested ONLY in their own survival. They'll do and say anything as long as it guarantees them a life raft off of the sinking GOP.

    November 9, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  13. Gary

    Can't the health care lobby give you better talking points. What about the GOPer born with Schizophrenia. Should they be turned down for having a preexisting condition? Who decides if half the party acts like us or them? Palin, Limbaugh, Steele, or you.

    November 9, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. Joe Sith

    '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'

    Wow, what an attitude! Does he really believe that everyone without health insurance all choose to be without health insurance? What universe does he live in?

    November 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  15. Ben in Texas

    We may be sure that Dick Armey is personally "sold for a profit" to the health insurance companies.

    The military, fire protection, and police protection are not products to be sold for a profit. Are they therefore worth nothing? Why shouldn't health insurance, which protects Americans from financial ruin just like the military, police, and firemen, not be a legitimate function of government?

    Armey is a hack and a mouthpiece for Big Insurance, whose massive and obscene profits are threatened by universal health care. Every taxpayer should get physically ill when they hear him whine that Americans do not deserve the same health care coverage that this leech enjoyed at America's expense.

    November 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. Jane/Seattle

    What a lunatic and liar! How is all that deficit spending from the Bush Regime going to get paid. I'd rather see billions used on caring for people than repeatedly Blowing stuuf up and killing the innocent. Where was the fiscal "conservatism" then? I think we've seen way too much capitalistic innovation in this area – more like profiteering – something you all do very well! Peace

    November 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. Andrew

    How incensitive and ignorant to suggest that people get diabetes because they eat like a pig. This is an insult to millions of people who happen to be diabetic. Watch your ugly mouth before you open it.

    November 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. Proud Member..Party of No

    Democrats never seem to be able to grasp the power of the profit motive. To Obama and the rest of the new democrat socialist party, all profit is evil which is exactly what they learned back when they were all smoking dope and Bill Ayers was blowing up buildings. They just can't grasp the notion that profit is the carrot that drives innovation. All of the tremendous strides and advances that we have seen in health care came about because the "evil" corporations and entrepreneurs saw a monetary gain for themselves by developing new products.

    November 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. Ethan

    This man is a corporate lobbyist and fraud. Period. Anyone who listens to him is a fool or is being fooled by the real Republican establishment: pro-corporate big business executives.

    Insurance companies are the real death panels. And this guy is their #1 cheerleader.

    November 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. Dave Kennedy

    There is no innovation brought by HEALTH INSURANCE.

    It's a non-product.. and all is only innovation comes in new ways to refuse treatment.

    Health care innovation comes from research labs, universities (government grants), pharmaceutical companies etc. – all of which are not relevant to health INSURANCE reform.

    November 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. fumblinstumblinoidiot

    ..Neo_socialism has reared its ugly head under the leadership of the botox injected house speaker Nancy Pukelousy and our narcacist president oflubber..the continued destruction of our economy will continue..in the end we will all be speaking chinese..after all it is their money we are spending

    November 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Splat!~

    'If it can't be sold for a profit, it's not worth inventing.'

    And that pretty much sums up conservative thought. Onward Christian soldier, Onward!~

    November 9, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. dave

    "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,'"

    Right! That's why so many Republicans patronize prostitutes.

    Making money off of death (war) and disease (health care) is morally repugnant and the goal of all Republicans.

    Mr. Army says "let those who eat like pigs die" Army is a typical fake Christian Republican. Every public policy stance he takes is the exact opposite of what Jesus would do.

    Mr. Army - then received a master's degree from the University of North Dakota and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. I guess he did not learn anything because he went to GOVERNMENT run schools

    November 9, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. johnrj08

    Dick Armey– the man who thinks we should put a price tag on lives of American citizens and earn a healthy profit from them. The man who thinks it's OK that nearly 50,000 Americans die every year because they have no insurance coverage. A man who thinks an insurance company should be able to deny coverage of a life-saving procedure to someone because they once had acne, or even because they've had a child. Dick Armey– the man who thinks capitalism trumps compassion and who prefers ideology over pragmatism. The man who thinks it perfectly acceptable for an insurance company executive to be paid an 8-figure bonus because his company denied coverage to thousands of hard-working Americans who cancelled policies of people who became sick. What we're talking about here is a political creature bereft of any conscience. A reptile who would sit and watch other Americans die as long as he has what he needs.

    Sickening.

    November 9, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  25. Southern gal

    Please do not pass judgement and cast stones on those who have never had health insurance. You do not know their story or what they've gone through. This is racism against the poor and middle class folks in America. These are hard-working, good and humble people.

    A person who has worked a minimum wage job all their life may not have ever had health insurance- that does not make him/her lazy or ignorant. An artist who is widely respected in their field may not be able to afford insurance-that does not make that person stupid.

    Very offended by his words.

    November 9, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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