The U.S. Supreme Court will issue a final call on the Affordable Care Act in the next few days, and our CEO, John Lechleiter, made this prediction in a Forbes.com column published today: "Anyone who believes that this decision will settle the issue of health care reform, one way or the other, will be disappointed."
Given all the speculation by media and pundits (OK, the rest of us, too) John's prediction is a bit of a letdown. People are looking for closure, after all. But as John says, there are many reasons that health care reform remains a vital issue -- including tens of millions of Americans who lack meaningful access to quality care that could prevent their disease, cure their illness, or save their lives. The court's decision -- constitutional, unconstitutional, or otherwise -- won't be a panacea for all that ails our system.
The fundamental reason: the aging of our society, which is moving across the world much like an actuarial tsunami. People are living decades longer than just a century ago -- an unequivocal benefit of medical innovation. But the aging of our population is rapidly colliding with the need to keep people healthy (a dilemma exacerbated by a struggling global economy).
As John points out, the need for health care reform is not parochial to the U.S. Many countries are looking for ways to enhance their systems -- and given the dynamics of our evolving society, there is no "once-and-for-all" solution.
During this long health care journey (just as in the past) Lilly will use a core set of principles to guide our thinking: we will advocate reforms that enhance patient access to good health care and medicines; provide consumer choice through market-based competition; promote prevention and evidence-based disease management; maintain high standards of quality and safety; and, of course, foster future medical innovation.
Regardless of the Supreme Court's decision, Lilly and our industry will continue advocating for policies that encourage and sustain medical innovation -- both in the U.S. and abroad -- while discouraging policies that undermine it. We'll soon know the future of the ACA, but the decision won't end the health care debate.