David Walker and the Concord Coalition are traveling the country on a fiscal wake-up tour. Much of what is written below is taken from their warnings on the danger of entitlements.
It is generally accepted that the Medicare hospital insurance trust fund will be exhausted by the year 2020, even without including the drug giveaway that is expected to cost $8 trillion over the next 75 years. In order to fund Medicare beyond that will require huge tax increases. The Medicare program is now projected to consume a quarter of all federal income taxes by 2020 and half of all federal income taxes twenty years later.
Obviously, we will no longer be capable of sustaining that kind of expense without some serious sacrifice. A sacrifice that none of today's politicians are going to be around to bear.
In addition to tripling the cost of the prescriptions involved this bill increased the profits of the huge multinationals by fifty percent. As the cost of healthcare increases at a rate, double that of inflation, any promises made for fiscal responsibility will be empty ones. To better comprehend the fiscal abuse legislated by the 2003 Republican controlled Congress and signed into law by the self-anointed fiscal conservative, President George W. Bush, consider the following.
In 2008, an army of close to 80 million men and women, born between the years 1946 and 1964, became eligible for Social Security benefits. Three short years later, this mass assemblage of baby-boomers will be eligible for Medicare and all that comes with it. Power wheelchairs, hearing aids, erectile dysfunction and other miracle drugs. This clearly demonstrated the utter disregard our government has for our children’s future.
It is this tsunami of spending that they burdened our children with, not the social security payments, which are funded by the payroll tax that will swamp our ship of state according to Walker, the country’s top accountant.
After the year 2040 he argues, the United States will only be capable of paying the interest on the massive and growing federal debt, especially after fifty percent of federal taxes are already allocated to the bankrupted Medicare hospital trust fund.
I believe once our government objectively reviews its policy regarding health care, it will ultimately conclude that those responsible for causing disease must pay the medical bills associated with its treatment. Only then will they stop subsidizing disease and begin promoting healthy products and active behavior.
The only way doctors and hospitals can respond to the increased demands is by becoming more efficient and less attentive, this practice is best described as assembly line medicine. Why would anyone want to be a patient in this system?
The Government’s Great Big Giveaway
The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 was, depending on ones perspective, either a gift to seniors and soon to be seniors (baby-boomers) or a betrayal of our children.
In either case, this law created a windfall for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, by providing a new entitlement, prescription drugs, to a generation already addicted to meds.
The point man for this deal was rep Billy Tauzin, Republican from Louisiana who co-sponsored the bill. Soon after its passage, Billy Tauzin resigned his position as chairman of the House committee that regulates the pharmaceutical industry and became CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the drug industry's top lobbying group, at a salary of $2 Million per year.
PhRMA is the main component of PIG. Together with insurance companies and regulators from the FDA, the USDA and the USP, they make the policy for healthcare or as I have termed it PIMPcare.
In addition to Mr. Tauzin, 14 other congressional staffers quit their job in Congress and moved onto the more lucrative field of PIMPcare.
It wasn’t just the drug companies that benefited from this entitlement, but insurance companies were given a bigger piece of the Medicare pie. Congress based its action on the creation of a more competitive fee structure for reimbursement. Fat chance of that happening.
Now we know why President Bush’s ‘no child left behind’ program was so important. Someone's going to have to pay for this freebie to seniors and baby-boomers and it won’t be them.
Meds for seniors and soon to be senior citizens (boomers) was a victory for President George W. Bush, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and the AARP, the retiree’s lobby.
This new entitlement was an early Christmas present to Big Pharma, courtesy of the US Congress, since in addition to increasing the amount of drugs they sell, the law also increased their revenues by prohibiting the government from negotiating for lower prices.
It also prohibited the importation of drugs from other neighboring countries like Canada where the same identical drugs are sold at lower prices.
The prohibition against negotiating lower fees on behalf of Americans is the most troubling feature of the giveaway. While this entitlement makes the US government the biggest purchaser of drug, it should also have given it leverage to bargain for lower prices. Congress fell on their swords for Big Pharma on this one. The children be damned.
To compound matters, within a month of its enactment, the ten-year cost estimate was increased to a cool half-trillion dollars. That’s $100 billion more than the figure presented by the Bush administration during Congressional hearings. I guess it wasn’t only WMD that his people fudged the facts on.
The inaccurate figures that they presented to Congress secured the support of the fiscally conservative wing of the Republican party who had promised to vote against the bill if it cost more than $400 billion.
Did the administration conceal a higher estimate and threaten to fire government analyst Richard Foster if he revealed it? No one is sure but what is certain is that the enormous costs of this program threaten the financial foundation of America.
The I in PIMP
I have thus far descibed the beneficiaries of America’s gluttonous epidemic as a series of fictious groups with the descriptive names of FEMA, PIMP and PIG. Collectively this group represent the companies that peddle the poisons that make people sick as well as those who treat and manage their illnesses. It also includes the regulators who oversee their operations.
The alignment of pharmaceutical, hospital and medical interests is forged by their dependence on a steady supply of patients. It is fortified by the insurance carriers who are used to fund the system out of the enormous premiums it collects from the government, businesses and patients
Insurance companies greedily accept their premiums but then often try and wiggle out of paying for tests, services and treatments by denying claims based on technicalities.
Health insurance companies and their lobbyists would like everyone to believe they are on the side of patients. That their medical review team’s purpose is to ensure quality of care for them.
The fact is, they issue denial letters whenever they can. Even for those who they have covered for many years. Their justification is often based on some pre-existing condition, or an inaccuracy, untruthfulness or undisclosed ailments in their initial application.
Other technical denials include rejecting the treatment as needless, superfluous or for failing to follow established protocols. They automatically reject treatments involving experimental and unproven therapies, even though they were recommended, performed or prescribed by qualified medical experts.
The purpose of an insurance company’s medical review team is to deny, limit or save money.
Insurance companies along with the drug, hospital and managed care industries, have perpetuated a fraud on the American public.
They, along with the food and entertainment industries, have reaped a financial windfall from the sedentary life and addiction to foods, drugs and inactivity instilled and encouraged in children. They should be ashamed.
While it may be true that the contents of their products are inspected and regulated for safety and efficacy, the behavior of these companies’ executives and employees has not.
These corporate villins are only held accountable to the fiscal rules of good conduct. And only when they abscomb with millions of dollars in bonuses do people take note. No one cares that they lied about their products nor about the consequences they would cause to kids.
As corporate citizens, their behavior is unregulated as is their power to influence and sway consumers through the science of neuromarketing and the process of addiction.
So long as the bottom line remains the criteria needed to stay viable in the healthcare arena, disease will be profitable. Only when this malappropriation of resources is corrected will we see healthier kids with less needs.
I believe it is already too late for today’s adolescent generation but its not too late for them as individuals. They, more than any other group, can benefit from the solution part of this book