Viewpoint: Don't demonize healthcare executives for creating profit 

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Americans are misplacing their anger at the inaccessibility and lack of affordability of the U.S. healthcare system toward CEOs and executives, Peter Ubel, MD, wrote in Forbes Nov. 22.

Dr. Ubel, a physician and behavioral scientist at Durham, N.C.-based Duke University, argued that the key to changing the profit-driven business practices in the system is to change the regulations about reimbursement. A system that allows for drug prices to be bumped up significantly above their value will inevitably invite greedy people who prioritize maximizing profit over patient well-being, he wrote.

"The problem with American healthcare is not the existence of greed. It's the rules greedy people need to follow to make money," he wrote in Forbes.

For him, the healthcare executives who are frequent targets of anger over the system have a limited power, as they themselves are beholden to their shareholders to turn a profit. 

"It's easy to demonize pharmaceutical companies for hiking the price of their medications. But do you think the CEO of a pharmaceutical company would remain in that position by lowering the company's prices?" he wrote. 

He argued instead that "rather than vilifying pharmaceutical CEOs or the companies they run for raising prices, we should think about how to combat those prices through rules and regulations." Through tying patient care to profit, the healthcare system could incentivize the executives to improve patient well-being as an extension of making money for the company.

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