HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Buffett's Billions and Health Care

With all the rather depressing news in the world, the Buffett billions and all the good that the Gates' Foundation will be able to do with the money were some welcome cheer.   The New York Times reports,

Warren E. Buffett's $31 billion gift to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help the foundation pursue its longstanding goal of curing the globe's most fatal diseases, Mr. Gates said yesterday, along with improving American education.

The foundation hopes to use the enormous gift, among other things, to find a vaccine for AIDS, Mrs. Gates said. And Mr. Gates went further, saying that while he might be "overly optimistic," he believed there was a real shot at finding cures for the 20 leading fatal diseases, as well as ensuring that every American has a chance at a decent education.

"Can that happen in our lifetime?" Mr. Gates said, sitting next to Mr. Buffett at the New York Public Library, where the gift was formally announced after news of it broke on Sunday. "I'll be optimistic and say, Absolutely."

But Mr. Gates acknowledged that spending the money effectively would be difficult. The scientific tasks the foundation has set for itself in fields like malaria and tuberculosis take time as well as money, because they require years of laboratory work followed by years of clinical trials, sometimes ending fruitlessly. Improving American education — once better ideas have been found — can take just as long. . . .

Mr. Buffett, for his part, said he saw no need to tinker with the foundation's essential goal: improving the lot of poor people elsewhere in the world without regard to their color, religion or other differences.

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