November 9th, 2009
10:40 AM ET
11 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. Linda from Minnesota

    He is crazy. The pharmaceutical companies throw money around now like there is no tomorrow. They spends millions on lobbying, give physicians free drugs. The only thing this bill will do is keep costs down.

    November 9, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. John in Iowa

    ""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."

    Yeah because they are the only 2 forms of 'pre-existing conditions' that exist right?

    November 9, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. jaye

    I told CNN that adding Mary Matlin to their talking heads would make them lose viewers... Also that their constant bashing of our President would make them lose viewers. Bill Bennett and his constant hateful rants, Mary Matlin and her nonsense, and now Peggy Noonan!
    If I wanted to listen to this horrible anti-Obama rethoric I would tune into that horrible fox news channel.
    So, CNN has lost their respect and their dignity and their viewers know it.
    AND, that our President won the peace prize should have been a momentous day for our country, yet, all the news networks made it sound more like a death threat instead of an honor.
    I'm ashamed of CNN and of what they've become.

    November 9, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. conrad

    Such vitriol.

    Why must it be assumed that any person who has fallen upon hard times is an alcoholic who 'eats like a pig'? Some people genuinely try and still struggle, take care of themselves to the best of their ability and still get sick. I don't see the humanity, nor any sense of 'patriotism' in having such disdain for your fellow man. Where is our sense of compassion as a nation?

    Lets not forget that many a rich man would not be rich if not for the hard labor of the hundreds of workers he pays a mere $8 per hour to while he makes billions. I know, I know ... his labor is worth more because ... um ... he's in charge.

    November 9, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. Dean

    Cripple the entire pharmaceutical industry? come on Dick do you really think we are that dumb.

    November 9, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. Leslie

    I think Armey means that it will kill that large bankroll from the lobbyists he and his republican cohorts have in their pockets.

    There go all those great paid vacations and golf trips!

    November 9, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  7. Bob of Lompoc

    Well, those newly ill folks are going to get care anyway. Who do you think will be the sole group paying for it ? Those who currently pay the high insurance premiums, artificially inflated because 47 million get care for no cost to them! Wake up America ! Armey is not stupid. He is selling this as another Republican scare tactic.

    November 9, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. robert diogenes

    GET THE FACTS BEHIND THE NEWS! Not everyone who does not have insurance is drunkard or glutton . Which seems to be Mr. Armey's claim. But even drunks or gluttons may need good,affordable health care, perhaps more than most. I am surprised that a former member of the US House would take such a position.

    Perhaps Mr. Armey should consider the good potential for the whole nation that the House reform bill can bring.

    November 9, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. Chris

    This is disgusting. This is twisting the ideals of a free market economy to the pharmaceutical companies' whims – which has been done for years here in America, the only country that refuses to impose restrictions on these corporations, resulting in outrageous prescription prices.
    This isn't about Republican principals – this is about keeping the wealthy in power of the impoverished. Why do the conservatives insist on pointing to the "evils" of the poor (i.e. welfare cheats, or benefitting from healthcare when individuals were not "responsible with their own health") while ignoring corporate crime, wealthy tax evaders? It's comparable to blaming the victim of a rape – "they were asking for it." – and it makes me sick.

    November 9, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. Charlotte

    Good grief, what the heck would he know about innovation and how it does (or does NOT) relate to people having health insurance??

    November 9, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. Sandra Elliott

    Excuse me? My husband is diabetic because he "eats like a pig"? (Nice thing to call the people who have voted for you.) We have paid for health insurance all our lives and when he was diagnosed-what happens?- he is dropped and forced to pay for "high risk" insurance. We now must have separate policies, 2 deductibles, etc... With his policy alone costing $800 a month! (There is no other insurance in Texas that provides high risk insurance so we can't "shop" for a better rate.) We can't let this go because he also has heart problems and has been in the hospital 3 times this year, we pay his 20% plus prescriptions. We always pay our bills but I fear the day we may not be able to afford any of this. Then who will pay? ALL TAXPAYERS WILL! We need something, Dick if you care for the people you represent AT ALL you and all the elected officials should work together regardless of party lines to do something to help us that are going broke trying to do the right thing!!! By the way he still tries to work and could claim disability easily.

    November 9, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Tom in FL

    Every state in the union has an insurance commission to force insurance companies to follow the basic rules of decency. They still manage to cheat a considerable number of their customers. Armey doesn't have to worry about the drug and insurance industries losing profitablity because they can't cheat and steal. They'll find a way to do it anyway.

    November 9, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. Brad

    Innovation in what? How to deny coverage? Most large pharmaceutical innovation is funded by government grants right now because the co's don't want to take a chance on big drugs 'cuz they fail more than they succeed. Also, we are mainly talking about insurance companies, not pharmaceutical companies or hospitals, and I am trying to figure out what kind of 'innovation' an insurance company has ever provided...

    November 9, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  14. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    What about overweight guys like Armey? That's not helping your health and neither would inactivity. Not regularly exercizing is irresponsible too?

    November 9, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. LacrosseMom

    Now we will hear every GOP-nutcase come out of the woodwork to SCARE AMERICA!

    45,000 Americans die every year because they lack healthcare.

    Everyone is upset over the tragedy at Fort Hood. However, 45,000 Americans DIE every year because they lack healthcare and the Republicans....... DO NOT CARE!

    November 9, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. Shana

    I'm surprised that an elected politician would blithely suggest that Americans who have difficulty obtaining private insurance due to preexisting conditions actually have this difficulty because they "eat like [pigs]." I'm also glad that I don't live in this ignoramus' district.

    November 9, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. Aunt Bea and Opie

    The only Corporate Fascist fat pig I see in this photo is Dick Armey.hahaha

    November 9, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. Robert

    This guy is your classic GOP moron. Their solution to everything is to do nothing and let people suffer. They have been doing it for years and are likely not to stop. Republicans solution to progress is to stay where we are. If it was up to them the recession would have just kept getting worse and worse to the point where we would have been standing in soup lines again. I say we just ignore them and move this country forward. Sir you are wrong, the primary killer of innovation is called the GOP. Moron.

    November 9, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Would that be the same Thomas Edison who had not yet invented the light bulb the last time a Dem held the House seat in NY-23?

    Until last Tuesday.

    The proof you failed is in which party picked up voting wins and which party picked up 2 symbolic wins.

    November 9, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  20. Death Panel Sarah

    I'm glad I don't belong to the Dick Army, he sounds like Hitler!!!
    The only people without healthcare, according to him, are bums and alcoholics. Nice man!!!

    November 9, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. ang

    The reason people go 20, 30, 40 years without buying insurance is because they can't afford it. They don't get preventive healthcare, so they end up in emergency rooms with life-threatening diseases. Sounds like Dick Armey agrees with Grayson's description of the GOP plan for healthcare–Don't get sick, and if you do, die quickly.

    November 9, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  22. diridi

    this guy is a total count on this texan texan idiot messed the nation, this mess the health care??? funny idiot...shut his stupid mouth....

    November 9, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  23. Jack

    I'm tired of conservatives telling us that healthcare reform will kill innovation in medicine. If that is truly the case, then explain Germany. I guess companies like Bayer, Merck, and Boehringer Ingelheim never produce anything innovative. And I guess the fact that Germany performs better than than US in virtually every category, including cost and effectiveness, show that countries with state-run insurance options are failing to take care of their people properly. This is the reason you never hear Germany and Denmark brought into the argument about state health programs. Instead, conservatives can only take swipes at Canada and the UK. But of course liberals won't do it either, because they're afraid of being called socialists. This is not a debate, it's a schoolyard brawl, complete with kicks to the groin and sand in the eyes.

    November 9, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  24. George Bush - Worst President Ever

    Typical Republican. Don't bring up the married couple with 2 kids who work 2 jobs each but still can't afford health insurance. Bring up the alchoholic. The Republicans have the most uncanny ability to see the worst in every situation.

    November 9, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. Greg Ballantyne

    Dick Armey wouldn't even make a good used car salesman.... Only a fool would listen to him. Of course, anyone who looks at health care the same as a commercial transaction is a fool. There should be no profit considerations in any health care decision making, we all know that.

    November 9, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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