Santorum defends drug companies in health care speech
February 1st, 2012
07:37 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum defends drug companies in health care speech

Woodland Park, Colorado (CNN) – In what his campaign billed as a "major speech on health care," Rick Santorum found himself Wednesday defending a profit-driven health care system to a woman who said her son requires expensive medication to stay alive.

The former Pennsylvania senator also detailed the deficiencies he sees in his rivals' health insurance records.

Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

One of the feistiest exchanges came in response to a young child's question on the cost of medical care in America. Urged on by his mother, a boy asked what Santorum would do to lower medical costs, but before he could finish his question, the candidate said such things should be left up to the market.

"We can make medicine cheaper by using markets," Santorum said. "That's how you make medicine cheaper is that you have free people going out there and competing against each other and competition drives up quality and drives down costs."

As Santorum was outlining his small-government, free-market approach to rising health care costs, another woman chimed in that she can no longer afford medication she desperately needs because the cost has become so exorbitant.

"The only reason new drugs are developed is because Americans actually do pay for the cost of that research," Santorum said. "And so when you say oh, I'll go and get my drugs in Canada, that's great. Go get your drugs in Canada and if everybody did that, you'd have no new drugs. You have that drug and maybe you're alive today because people have a profit motive to make that drug."

Using a somewhat confusing metaphor, Santorum tried to explain the need for a profit motive by comparing health care consumption to technology consumption.

"People have no problem going out and buying an iPad for $900," he said. "But paying $900 for a drug, they have a problem with it. It keeps you alive. Why? Because you have been conditioned to thinking that health care is something that you should get and not have to pay for. Drug companies, health care companies need to have a profit motive, because if they don't, then how are we going to regulate costs? We are gonna ration care."

The mother of the original questioner tried once more to plead her case, explaining that she's paid $1.3 million a year to keep her son alive, and while she's willing to go bankrupt for her child, it pains her to see his friends die in the hospital because their parents cannot afford the treatment.

Finding himself in the unenviable position of defending oft-derided drug companies, Santorum stuck to his guns.

"He's alive today because drug companies thought that they would make money in providing that care and if the drug company didn't think they could make any money by providing that care, I hate to put it in these terms, but that drug wouldn't be here," he said, adding that he sympathized with the mother, "we either believe in markets or we don't."

Asked by a reporter after the event about what alternatives people in such tough circumstances have, Santorum suggested that charity was a better option than government intervention.

"Even in the tough cases, even at the ones that pull at your heart strings, we've got to believe in people and markets and churches and families and charity instead of government, and that's what I believe" he said.

Earlier in his remarks, while highlighting the similarities between the health care plan Mitt Romney passed in Massachusetts and the controversial plan passed by President Obama, Santorum came out against the widely-popular provision that requires insurance companies to offer plans regardless of preexisting conditions.

"I have family members who have preexisting conditions, and I'm not for preexisting condition clauses," Santorum said.

To justify his position, he described a hypothetical situation wherein healthy Massachusetts residents opt not to buy insurance, instead paying a fine. Then when they get sick, they purchase insurance, immediately dropping it again once they get better.

"What happens to the cost of health insurance," Santorum asked the crowd, many of whom answered that costs would rise. "There's a reason for preexisting conditions clauses. You want people to get insurance, and if they don't, then they shouldn't be free riding on everybody else. That's exactly what's going to happen with Obamacare."

Santorum said this similarity between "Obamacare" and "Romneycare" would mean that "Barack Obama, in a debate or in this election, is going to destroy Mitt Romney on the issue of health care." Both plans are wrong, he argued, because both represent top-down management of an issue that should be left up to families.

Also see:

Romney: Convention or bust

Santorum looks past Florida

New anti-Obama ad slams Solyndra 'fiasco'

Romney to receive Secret Service protection


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Data Driven

    Rick says so many stupid things in this piece that it's hard to know where to begin. Spending hundreds of dollars a month on life-sustaining medication is comparable to buying an iPAD? Any of his fans care to explain this to the rest of us?

    And is he really going to wear those sweater-vests for the rest of his quixotic campaign?

    February 1, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  2. kuewa

    Santorum is just another elitist who has no understanding of how the current health care market actually operates and how both insured and uninsured suffer unreasonable, inflated costs imposed by profit-driven drug companies. The US pharma market already operates within a free market, but it operates as a complex collusive monopoly, which is supported by payers who themselves have a profit motive. Drug and other healthcare costs are much better controlled in countries with nationalized healthcare with cost/benefit based drug approvals/reimbursement processes. With few exceptions, most new drugs in the US have no significant therapeutic benefit over less expensive alternatives. However, the FDA is not empowered to consider incremental benefit or cost/benefit in the drug approval process, and there is an unreasonable expectation that every patient is entitled to every new drug regardless of actual benefit over less expensive alternatives or cost/benefit.

    February 1, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  3. Former Republican, now an Independent

    "Stupid is as Stupid does".............Forrest Gump

    February 1, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. Sandy

    Another fake Christian who puts profits before people. Jesus is ashamed. But not Santorum.

    February 1, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  5. arale norimaki

    Rick Santorum is the anti-gay, anti-abortion guy who is running on these social issues. Never mind health reform or jobs. Or anything important or non-discriminatory, for that matter.

    February 1, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  6. Steven Colo

    Woodland Park is a suburb of Colorado Springs. It's an isolated mountain town with 7600 residents. A major speech on health care in a town of 7600? Yeah, right.

    February 1, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  7. Real Patriot

    Is there anybody in America who is the least bit surprised by this? Ask the other Republican clowns...they would defend Big Pharma too!

    This is the choice you have America-pay attention!

    February 1, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  8. Johnson

    The Republican motto (If you can't afford it TUFF)

    February 1, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  9. An American

    What a pig.

    February 1, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  10. Regis990

    What a tool.

    February 1, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  11. gg

    like most republicans say who cares -if you can,t afford it to bad –i got mine

    February 1, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  12. Teena

    Very easy for him to lambast mandated affordable health care for all when HE and his family are covered by GOVERNMENT provided health care!

    February 1, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  13. jacq

    We see who's pulling his strings

    February 1, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  14. w l jones

    Not to long ago only the rich and well to do could afford full covered health care, unless you were an elected official and the tax payer pick up theirs tab free of charge. Bless.

    February 1, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  15. dagoberto

    Drugs are expensive because the government keeps pumping unlimited ammount of cash into drugs

    February 1, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  16. Just a thought

    And this folks is pandering for $$'s with drug companies....But this whole position by Santorum just leaves one to say..."What?????"

    It amazes me how nearly everyone, including myself, felt so much concern and sympathy his daughter. But ultimately it begs the question.... What about people that couldn't afford to hospitalize their child under these conditions, and/or don't have insurance.???? Oh that's right, we heard the answer at one of those Rebublican Debacles (aka Debates) where they said....."let them die"...now we double down on that and say, ....the drugs are expensive because only the people that can afford them should get them....thus driving down cost, and essentially "thining the herd" of all other undesirables -....yep, you guessed it ...POOR PEOPLE Wow and these are evangelical beliefs???? Ok, when are the churches supposed to start dispensing drugs to the less fortunate?....oops, that's not happen either is it?

    February 1, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  17. Hahahahahahahahaha

    For the Rich, Of the Rich, and By the Rich. Hahahahahahahahahahaha

    February 1, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  18. JR

    This is my wife and son in this report and I am very proud of both of them. For being 7 years old he has a good idea of his disease and what it takes daily to keep him ahead of it. Unfortunately there are other children that have the same disease and can not afford what it takes to keep them ahead of the game OR their insurance does NOT cover all the meds our son gets so you can imagine their condition. Santorum's ideas suggest we are lucky but why does the same drug cost differently depending on which side of the border do you live? Sounds like he is more interested in helping big business then helping little children. Glad he has money to pay for his daughter's medical needs. Just for FYI – our son takes 8 drugs in the morning and 7 at night must to maintain.

    February 1, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  19. HenryB

    These Republicans totally and admittedly don't feel the need for government to play a role to benefit the lives of people. The saving grace for Santorum is that he is open and unrepentant in his hate for government and his disregard for the "least among us" that HIS church, the Catholic Church pretends to care for.

    February 1, 2012 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  20. Greyman

    I can destroy the myth that the free-market, on its own, will always supply new, badly-needed drugs...

    ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT BACTERIA

    Since the pursuit of one-time use drugs to cure an infection is not as profitable as stuff like antidepressant or hair loss treatments, the world is lagging behind in developing new antibiotics to counter how evolution churns out drug-resistant critters.

    Also torpedoes the charge that evolution is a lie, of course, but that's for another day....

    February 1, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  21. CoJo

    how aabout the american people get the exact same health care that congress has. Does Santorum still get health care even though he has been fired?

    February 1, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  22. CoJo

    he STLL has not answered the question about how to dela with people with no health insurance....Stll has not answered that question... wonder why?

    February 1, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  23. CoJo

    sounds like he is siding with the insurance companies that do not want to cover preexisting conditions. So if preexisting conditions are not covered, what's the point in having health insurance??????

    February 1, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  24. Beverly - NYC

    Surely he can't be this thick. He sees nothing wrong with healthcare costing this family 1.3 million dollars? Really. Sound like someone got a new script and couldn't stray from it. Did he gave credit to the drug company who obviously wrote his speech ? Rich neither Pfizer or Merck will cease doing research if people buy pills in Canada.

    February 1, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  25. ksmary

    Mr. Santorum apparantely does not know that the cost of drugs most people are concerned about are not like a one time cost of 900 dollars for an iPad, but a weekly cost of 1000+ dollars for many years. No charity, no matter how sympathetic they may be, can afford to pay that amount for low income, un-insured persons who seek their help.

    February 1, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
1 2