Mona Charen
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Yes, we families with Type I pray for a cure. But the recent progress in technology has offered really tantalizing possibilities. Medical device manufacturers have recently debuted a new technology that is key to the health of Type I diabetics -- continuous glucose monitors. These provide 24/7 data on the patient's blood sugar to supplement the six daily finger sticks. Eventually, the combination of these two technologies -- the insulin pump and the continuous glucose monitor -- could provide the Holy Grail for Type I diabetics: an artificial pancreas. The AP would keep blood glucose at normal or near normal levels and thus prevent worst effects of diabetes. We've heard estimates that the technology may become available within five years.

Unless the medical device industry is hit with a major tax.

While the U.S. leads the world in medical technology, most device makers are not huge conglomerates, but smaller companies already hurting in this recession. According to the Advanced Medical Technology Association, the industry consists of about 6,000 companies, most of which earn less than $100 million annually. The chief executive of B. Braun Medical, which makes pain control devices, told the Washington Post that paying his share of the new tax would "exceed my research and development budget." The $4 billion annual tax would represent about 40 percent of the industry's outlay for research and development ($9.6 billion).

If this tax is enacted, medical device manufacturers will cut back drastically on R and D, and may have to lay off employees. In addition, they will charge higher prices for their products to compensate for the money confiscated by Washington. Since health insurance plans frequently cover half or more of the cost of these already expensive products, health insurance rates would have to rise as well. This is just one more example of the ways health care costs would be driven up, not down, by the Democrats' reforms.

As for David, he will see the prospect of an artificial pancreas -- his greatest hope for a healthier and longer life -- recede over the horizon.

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Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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