Jamie Dimon, J.P. Morgan's chairman and CEO, gave the keynote speech during the lunch hour. He spoke about the current healthcare crisis and policies that should be implemented to cover the uninsured. He believes that everybody should be insured or have access to healthcare. It should be affordable, and there should be an emphasis on preventive care. With the new Obama Administration and his Secretary of Human Health and Service, Tom Daschle, he has the sanguine outlook that they will implement some form of universal healthcare in the near term.
Dimon also briefly covered the financial crisis that occurred last September and feels that we will face at least two more rough quarters with continued economic downturn. He noted that we haven't seen a recession like the one we're currently experiencing since 1982, when the unemployment rate was over 10%.
Both Jim Greenwood, BIO's president and CEO, and Josh Borger, BIO's chairman, gave their overview of BIO's role in working with the transition team of the new Obama administration. They particularly emphasized that biotechnology is one of the crown jewels of the industrial sector—one of few industries that emphasizes innovation related not only to healthcare but also to energy and food production.
They noted that they are working with the incoming administration in formulating an economic stimulus package for the biotechnology industry, which revolves around a one-time tax credit. It is now being discussed in both houses of Congress.
They said that with the recent collapse in the credit markets, over 120 biotech companies are in a financial crisis with only six months of cash to hold them over. They realize the economic stimulus package is only a stopgap measure to help the bleeding in some of these companies.
Additionally, Greenwood and Borger said that they will also work with the new administration to establish sound patent protection policies that allow greater growth and innovation in the biotech sector. Also, they feel the executive order to ban stem cell research by the NIH will soon be overturned with majority support from both houses of Congress.