06 Mar Washington politicians need to focus on cancer research

I founded LabMD, a Georgia medical testing lab, to specialize in diagnosing certain types of cancers.  I believe that the policymakers in Washington, D.C. need to be bold to stamp out cancer.  The government can play a role in promoting innovation in cancer diagnoses.

Innovation and American ingenuity will be the solution to cancer, because the United States has the best doctors, medical entrepreneurs, and researchers.  It can’t come soon enough, but there are some promising breakthroughs right now.  Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy (CAR-T therapy) is an immunotherapy that has shown some promise in fighting cancer.

It is a sad truth that cancer disproportionately hits the elderly.  Many older Americans are on Medicare and don’t have deep pockets to put toward expensive new innovative therapies that may extend their lives.  Doctors throughout the nation have to make tough decisions every day with the elderly who suffer from cancer and other life-threatening diseases because of cost and the fact that Medicare does not cover all.

michael daugherty labmd cancer research

Those who are not elderly are unaware that Medicare does not cover everything older Americans need.  Kevin McKechnie of the Health Savings Accounts Council wrote on August 22, 2019 about the gaps in Medicare: “deductibles can be close to $2,000 combined, and other out-of-pocket costs in Medicare are often not a flat co-pay but a percentage of the charges, which makes it difficult to budget and plan ahead.”  He also pointed out that “Medicare does not cover certain important services, such as dental and vision care and hearing aids.”  These are people who have worked hard and deserve quality and inexpensive health care.

The Trump administration is at a crossroads, because it has the power to allow Medicare to cover CAR-T therapy.  These therapies change the blood cells of patients to battle cancer.  Pharmacy Times calls the treatment “Genetically Programming the Immune System to Attack Malignant Cells” and concluded that “gene-modified cell therapy, such as CAR T-cell therapy, is revolutionizing oncology, and this ‘living drug’ model is breathing life into the hopes of patients with cancer and caregivers.”  This therapy has had a large number of good outcomes and shows great promise in the elusive fight to find the cure for all cancers.

The current roadblock is the fact that many hospitals want to use this revolutionary new treatment, yet Medicare is not helping out rural hospitals to afford these treatments.  Because of this urban versus rural hospital disparity, many rural seniors have to travel to big-city hospitals to get Medicare to cover these treatments.  The Trump administration needs to focus on the reimbursement issues and fix them to help the elderly and poor who have cancer.

In 2018, Food and Drug commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, “There are places where I am extremely worried that if we don’t adapt the approach to reimbursement soon, we may foreclose therapeutic opportunities.”  That was a year and a half ago, yet the problem still remains.  Gottlieb pointed out that researchers have been “nimble” and “innovative” in the face of a government that is “ossified” in the procedures used to pay to fight rare disease and cancer.

Like the fight to deploy next-generation 5G technology to get rural areas broadband coverage, the same can be said of the CAR-T therapy.  According to Axios, “Chinese scientists are attempting to develop CAR-T therapies — which genetically engineer a patient’s own immune cells to destroy cancer cells — much faster and with a much cheaper price tag than those in the U.S.”  The Chinese don’t care as much about testing and oversight, so China will not have fully tested these therapies to make sure they do no harm.  The U.S. should not lose the race to deploy CAR-T therapy because of a broken Medicare reimbursements system.

It is time to work to cure cancer and save lives with the aid of Trump administration policies that will reward innovation and sufficiently reimburse hospitals and doctors who are on the cutting edge of deploying this new exciting therapy.

Posted Mar 5th, 2020 in American Thinker.


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Graphic credit :

Graphic credit :

Pity the poor practitioner…seeing patients all day, trying to save lives, only to have government lawyers creep into their existence. Doctors weren’t taught hiring, training, or government relations in medical school. Most MBA grads don’t run a doctor’s office. It is trial by fire…and when our health care providers lose, we lose. We lose our health, our freedom, and our economy. And all because politicians throwing roses sang a song of seduction.


Things first started to go sour when insurance companies got the great idea to contain costs by exploiting physician’s lack of negotiating skills. With fear and intimidation, doctors joined networks. There were times when insurance carriers wouldn’t even let the doctors know the fee schedules until after they signed the contract. These barbaric tactics were cloaked with the excuse of reducing costs. What really was going on was dollars shifting from practitioner to insurance carrier. Premiums did not go down, services did not improve…and doctors got mad.


Feeling more helpless and jaded, they began to take ownership of testing facilities and outpatient centers. Two started to play that game. And suddenly tests were ordered at a much greater frequency…and that wasn’t exactly a surprise. Not good for lowering costs. Not good for the forgotten patient.


Medicare didn’t like that. They had to write bigger checks. But instead of specifically preventing the behaviors they didn’t like, they just sliced payments, punishing all for the greediness of a few. That way no politician or bureaucrat would be accused of having to make a decision. No decision to make means no blame to take. And the game played on.


The medical world went round and round…and started to spin less smoothly.


Those with an opinion but no education started to hypnotize the equally clueless with groupthink and horror stories about how terrible our medical system was. Others listening to these stories blindly accepted the trash talk. Most people have not been patients in hospitals, so most people really have no experience to make an accurate judgment. In the mean time our doctors and nurses missed much of this drama because they were too busy working their tails off. There was no shortage of academic experts with artificial intelligence spewing dangerous yet sweet sounding theories.


Then came Obama. He enjoyed the perfect storm of silver tongued oratory skills and blind followers who thought they had just found Jesus. The legions of fools swelled. The hyperbole so sweet and well intentioned, it resulted in one of the biggest cons of the American public. History will not be kind to this grand social experiment bearing the fingerprints of Obama, the Clintons, Pelosi and Reid.


Now doctors and nurses are trying to keep their balance on the deck of a ship trapped in a massive storm. Disgusted with the AMA, exhausted by being vilified, and overwhelmed with bureaucracy, they retire, join larger groups, or sell their practices to hospital systems.


The soul has been cut out of medicine by arrogant politicians who will say anything. With no ethical boundaries they have ruined our health. We have to get it back. Pity those who had the arrogance to play with what they don’t understand. Pity the practitioner. And most of all, pity the forgotten patient.

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14 Mar The Congressional Medical License to Practice Obamacare

Obamacare law

Look at that picture of the Congressional Medical License. Isn’t that impressive? (Some people refer to it as the Obamacare law, but I think my name is more accurate). I sure am glad that all those DC folks went to medical school so they would acutely understand what they were messing with.

Feel better? Think about that when your loved one or, God forbid, even you, are rolling into surgery or getting chemotherapy.  Good thing those politicians have our backs, what with death such a permanent thing and all. After years of seamless government operations and efficiency, it only makes perfect sense that they should challenge themselves with trying to manage our very survival. They do everything else so well, it just seemed like a good time to tackle something that would really give the US Government a stretch. It is also comforting to know that Congress is perfectly capable of policing itself. I hear rumors that incoming congressmen have to take a medical ethics class during orientation; if you ask me, that is just an obvious and smart move.

And the fact that it has been signed by the Medical Director himself, Barack Obama, really makes me sleep well at night. No grand social experiment on us guinea pigs here, oh no. He has years…I mean months…I mean days, of actual “roll up your sleeves” real world experience in oncology, infectious disease, urology, neurosurgery, cardiology, geriatrics, medical devices, pathology, clinical chemistry, pharmaceuticals, emergency medicine, molecular diagnostics, internal medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, and orthopedics.

Nancy Pelosi took an online advanced placement course in medicine and blew away the numbers, so of course she has not seen the Congressional Medical License (said she didn’t need too). However, she still leaned forward enough to lead the charge. When plastic surgery was being debated, our Medical Director and Chief, knowing his limitations and the time bomb he was dealing with, called in Nancy Pelosi for some insight. Ever the penny pincher and not wanting to mess with the face of America, she recommended that plastic surgery not be included in the bill. I love a fiscal conservative.

As the baby boomers get sick and need all these services, like a tsunami coming for the coast, the younger people will just have to pick up the check; they should not worry. By the time they are ready for the gurney all the bugs will be worked out of the system. If they have a problem I am sure they will be able to contact our Medical Director at his Presidential Library in Hawaii. Not sure what he will be able to do, being long gone and all, but he does enjoy listening. After all, that is what Nancy Pelosi said just last week on TV. Really, Google it if you don’t believe me.


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Michael Daugherty is President & CEO of LabMD, an Atlanta-based clinical and anatomic medical laboratory with a national client base. Mike founded LabMD in 1996 after 14 years in surgical device sales with U.S. Surgical Corp. and Mentor Corporation.

Outside of LabMD, enjoys playing tennis, travel, and flying his Cirrus SR22 Turbo single engine aircraft.


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