What Is Reality?: America Is Heading Toward Financial Disaster
Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
The United States cannot afford to provide universal healthcare coverage under a single party payer. The country is in financial difficulty without expanding Medicare.
“Bernie Madoff is small-time compared to the federal government. Really. You want Ponzi schemes? The new Obama-Democrat budget deficit is $1.8 trillion, four times larger than it was only last year. The national public debt has increased by more than 10 percent since Inauguration Day.”
Social Security and Medicare are underfunded entitlement programs. Medicare for the entire country is not viable.
These are the published numbers for 2008.
- Social Security’s unfunded liabilities stood at $13.6 trillion.
- Medicare’s unfunded liabilities are more than $30 trillion.
- Medicaid, another severely underfunded and politically untouchable entitlement program, only adds to the total.
- The federal government’s current entitlement bill, including future obligations-based only on promises it has made in the past — is greater than $57 trillion.”
The first Baby Boomers started drawing early retirement benefits from Social Security last year.”
78 million people are going to stop working, stop paying taxes, stop paying into retirement programs and start drawing Social Security and Medicare benefits. The federal government has made explicit and implicit promises to millions of retiring citizens. It does not have the funds to keep those promises without a big hike in taxes.
“According to a recent forecast by the Congressional Budget Office shows that Medicare and Medicaid alone are going to crowd out everything else the federal government is doing by mid-century”
In order to get close to funding our current obligations it is estimated that the income tax rate will have to increase to 66%. With all the bailouts and economic stimulus packages the federal government’s debt can only get worse.
Yet the game of who can have better sound bites and who can win is the only thing that is important to President Obama, the healthcare insurance industry, and the Democratic congress.
Healthcare reform should not be about a National Healthcare Insurance Exchange or universal healthcare with a single party payer. This is not going to fix the healthcare system. It will make our financial problems worse. Our government officials should face reality. It should do what all physicians know needs to be done.
It should be passing legislation to create a less polluted environment. It should revise the Farm Bill. It should eliminate the use of corn syrup. It should fight obesity with public service educational campaigns. It should create an insurance product that provides consumers with financial incentives to stay healthy. It should eliminate the causes of administrative waste and defensive medicine. These should be the areas of discussion in order to repair the healthcare system. These bold topics threaten powerful vested interests and are politically explosive.
America should set up a healthcare insurance system that provides incentives consumers to demand better foodstuff and a healthier environment. Consumers should own their healthcare dollars and be able to save what they do not use. (ideal medical savings account).
The federal government should make the conversion to functional electronic medical records easier and less costly to physicians (ideal electronic medical record). We should have major tort reform to decrease the intolerable cost of defensive medical.
These are areas in which the healthcare reform debate should be focused. If the Republican Party wants to seize the initiative from the Democratic Party and excite the citizens of our country they need to act .
Instead, we have a silly debate pitting the new media (Democratic Party) against the old media (Republican Party) over systems we cannot afford. The new media will win. Americans lose no matter which side wins.
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.