Karl Rove and Senator Tom Daschle were among the political figures at BIO 2009 discussing how the US healthcare system should be reformed, which some believe could have grave consequences for medical innovation in the country.
The Obama administration has signalled its willingness to tackle healthcare reform but although many agree on necessity there are significant differences in how various politicians propose to tackle the issue.
A concern that rose during the discussion, and one that could have a direct impact on people in the audience at BIO, is that creating a public health plan would harm innovation because fewer people would have private insurance.
This concern was voiced by Rove, who said: "We've got to be very careful about this because once we undo it it's going to be very hard to recreate."
Rove's sentiments were echoed by other members of the panel but views differed on how what healthcare reforms should be undertaken. The uncertainty surrounding healthcare reform has been cited in other panel discussions at BIO as a factor that is creating nervousness among the biotech and venture capitol community.
On the evidence of the panel discussion, which agreed to some extent on the necessity of "cost-containment" but not how to achieve this, the uncertainty is likely to continue for the coming months.