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Paragon’s Initial Impact

President at Paragon Health Institute
Brian Blase, Ph.D., is the President of Paragon Health Institute. Brian was Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the White House’s National Economic Council (NEC) from 2017-2019, where he coordinated the development and execution of numerous health policies and advised the President, NEC director, and senior officials. After leaving the White House, Brian founded Blase Policy Strategies and serves as its CEO.

Paragon Health Institute is hitting the ground running. 

We kicked off our launch with an announcement in The Washington Postcoverage in Inside Health Policy, a new website (, and the release of our state health reform book, “Don’t Wait for Washington: How States Can Reform Health Care Today.” 

Health economist John Goodman reviewed Paragon’s state health reform book in Forbes, writing: “I cannot in this short article do justice to the full range of reform opportunities that are open to state governments [from the book]. But would-be reformers will not be disappointed if they get the full Paragon Institute report and read it cover to cover.”

I’ve been busy the past few weeks briefing key influencers about Paragon’s mission and work. Last week, Paragon’s Vice President Caroline DeBerry and I traveled to San Diego to attend the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2021 States and Nation Policy Summit. We met with lawmakers and influencers, and I presented Paragon’s state reform recommendations to ALEC’s HHS Task Force.

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My colleagues have been busy as well. Director of Paragon’s Public Health and American Well-Being Initiative Dr. Joel Zinberg was featured in numerous media outlets with COVID-related commentaries. 

In the New York Post on November 29, Dr. Zinberg provided sage advice in an attempt to calm the hysteria of some politicians and members of the media about the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Dr. Zinberg wrote, “Since the start of the pandemic, governors around the country have often struggled to appear to be doing something to stem COVID-19, regardless of whether that something was well advised. … No one yet knows if the Omicron variant will be widespread and dangerous … we should let local hospitals and governments, who are best positioned to understand their situations and the means necessary to mitigate them, act without heavy-handed state intervention.”

A week earlier in the same paper, Dr. Zinberg warned, “Circulating viruses can always mutate and become more transmissible or resistant to vaccines. That is why a new flu vaccine is formulated each year. New COVID-19 vaccines may eventually be needed, too. But unless SARS-CoV-2 changes in a large and unexpected way, near-term fluctuations in COVID-19 cases are unlikely to translate into large increases in hospitalizations and deaths. COVID-19 remains an important public health problem, but it is one we must keep in proper perspective.”

Dr. Zinberg also wrote two pieces in National Review—one about the rash of pending opioid lawsuits “threatening to penalize legitimate prescription opioid makers,” coauthored with Sally Satel, and another about the lack of science behind President Biden’s new COVID travel restrictions. The travel restrictions have potentially devastating policy ramifications as well. “Perhaps most distressing about the Biden Africa ban is that it unnecessarily stigmatizes African people and discourages nations from being open and transparent about new variant outbreaks,” Dr. Zinberg wrote.

In City Journal, Dr. Zinberg wrote about the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stay OSHA’s workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Paragon’s public advisors have been making an impact as well. Here is just a sampling: 

  • Naomi Lopez, in The Hillargues that states should build on telehealth reforms implemented during the COVID crisis.
  • On Fox News, Dr. Marty Makary warned against “forever” COVID restrictions in response to omicron variant.
  • Dr. Tomas Philipson, University of Chicago economist and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and his colleague Troy Durie, assessed the impact of the Build Back Better Act on drug innovation and patient health. He estimates that this legislation will reduce drug revenues by “12.0 percent through 2039 and … that R&D spending will fall about 18.5 percent, amounting to $663 billion.” He projects that this will result in 135 fewer new drugs and “generate a loss of 331.5 million life years in the U.S.”  
  • Dr. Philipson also highlighted these results in a December 2 op-ed in The Hill.

It’s been a productive and exciting few weeks for us since launching Paragon. Be on the lookout for our first research paper due out in just a few days.

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