Healthcare Business News

Other Voices

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: January 12, 2013 - 12:01 am ET

America's love affair with Medicare

“Americans don't particularly like government, but they do want government to subsidize their healthcare. They believe that healthcare spending improves their lives more than any other public good … Americans opposed any cuts to Medicare by a margin of 70% to 25%. In a democracy, voters get what they want, so the line tracing federal healthcare spending looks like the slope of a jet taking off. Medicare spending is set to nearly double over the next decade.

“This is the crucial element driving all federal spending over the next few decades and pushing U.S. federal debt to about 250% of GDP in 30 years. … healthcare spending, which people really appreciate, is squeezing out all other spending, which they value far less. Spending on domestic programs—for education, science, infrastructure and poverty relief—already has faced the squeeze, and will take a huge hit in the years ahead.”

—David Brooks in the New York Times

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Emphasize mental-health reform

“In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings, buried in the hyperbolic effects of gun control or gun freedom, there initially was some talk about looking at mental healthcare. ... Finally, it appeared there would be a serious effort to address a long-neglected health concern in America, a concern that gets little attention from politicians or media—except in a negative way.

“Sadly, rather than use this critical time for thoughtful review, national media and political leaders are positioning themselves on gun control … that is a much easier pro-con, 'them versus us' issue to debate and cover than the less sexy issue of mental health reform. …

“However, two lawmakers are trying to break from that herd mentality. U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent (R-Fla.), have co-authored a bill that will expand funding for crisis intervention teams, mental health courts and law enforcement training.”

The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

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