Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Cut, cut, cut: A popular short-term, buzzword strategy but does it make long-term sense?

Given: System-wide, US healthcare costs have been on an upward trajectory for decades.

Given: The #1 reason Americans go bankrupt is that they cannot pay their medical bills.

Given: As we grow older, our healthcare (and health insurance) costs increase.

Given: Baby Boomers are entering their Golden Years, and between 2010 and 2040, the US population over 65 years of age will double.

Given: Fiscal hawks at the state and federal level want to reduce, dramatically change, or eliminate government-backed health insurance (Medicare and Medicaid), as well as social safety net programs (ie, Social Security, food stamps, and unemployement).

Given these facts: It is not difficult to see how the colliding forces of an aging population, increasing healthcare costs, and decreasing government support could create a perfect storm in US in the not-so-distant future.

New research published in the September 2011 issue of The American Journal of Medicine gives us a glimpse of what that perfect storm may look like.

Using statistical modeling, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco and Columbia University reported that without significant changes in risk factors or treatments, “…the aging of the US population will result in a sizeable increase in coronary heart disease incidence, prevalence, mortality, and costs.”

More specifically:

  • “…incident coronary heart disease [new cases] is projected to increase by approximately 26%, from 981,000 in 2010 to 1,234,000 in 2040…
  • “Prevalent coronary heart disease [is projected to increase] by 47%, from 11.7 million to 17.3 million.
  • “Mortality will be affected strongly by the aging population; annual coronary heart disease deaths are projected to increase by 56% over the next 30 years, from 392,000 to 610,000.
  • “Coronary heart disease-related health care costs are projected to rise by 41% from $126.2 billion in 2010 to $177.5 billion in 2040 in the United States.”

The public health and economic consequences of these projections are staggering– particularly if extremist Teapublicans like Congressman Paul Ryan and sheep-like followers (including Arizona’s own Jeff Flake) have their way.

Let’s assess the current situation…

If you think income disparity and greed are destroying our country now, just wait. If Teapublicans like Michelle “down with entitlements” Bachmann, Rick “minimum wage” Perry, Mitt “the oligarch’s baby” Romney, Sarah “cut NPR to balance the budget” Palin, Jeff “I was against austerity before I was for it” Flake*, and, of course, FOX “the poor need to pay their fair share” News have their way, there will be literally millions of sick, elderly Americans living at the subsistence level without healthcare services or medicine.

Is this the future we want?

The balanced budget deal passed earlier this month is the only one in history that includes cuts in spending and no increases in revenue. We need sanity in government, and I’m not sure we’ll get it from the Gang of 12.

We need to put people back to work– at good-paying jobs (not the kind Perry created in Texas)– so they can contribute to the economy and contribute to Medicare and Social Security through their paychecks. To control healthcare costs, we need universal healthcare– instead of this hybrid system that allows insurance companies to continue their rape of the American people. We need to eliminate the Bush era tax cuts for the rich and cut tax loopholes for individuals and corporations. We need to end the wars and cut military spending.

Yes, we need sanity in government.

* In all fairness, this is also the position of Senators Jon Kyl, John McCain, and Mitch McConnell and Congressmen John Boehner and Paul Ryan.

9 comments on “Cut, cut, cut: A popular short-term, buzzword strategy but does it make long-term sense?

  1. Al
    August 25, 2011

    Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate government departments and agencies: A long term solution to short term nonsense.


  2. alanwei.johns
    August 25, 2011

    The places we need to cut are in the out of control bureaucratic Departments such as the EPA and other departments creating stifling regulations and restrictions. Even the department of education needs to be cut back and return education to local control of the states. In many ways the Dept of Ed has created chaos by having the free for all for money which only leads to a dilution of the primary function of schools that is to educate thinkers who are capable of expressing their thoughts.
    Unfortunately education has become a giant industry about money for the adults losing sight of the students.


  3. Plain ol' B.O. not Hussain
    August 25, 2011

    The next challenge?
    Who tells Gabby she is writing a book?


  4. Jim Hannley
    August 25, 2011

    Pamela, another thoughtful, well researched and well linked article. It is so odd that at the very time when America needs a truly rational health care system, there is so much vitriolic push back for even the inadequate Healthcare Reconcilliation Act.


  5. R. Graap
    August 27, 2011

    Right on target,Pamela.  For a presumed civilized, western society that is supposed to have basic protection for its citizens, it is outrageous that we do not have basic healthcare protection. I know Canada and other western nations have problems with funding of their healthcare systems, but  their citizens do not go backrupt and/or lose their homes or life savings because of lack of healthcare coverage. 


  6. R. Graap
    August 27, 2011

    So sorry for the typo:   Bankrupt, not backrupt!!


  7. B Warren
    August 27, 2011

    Very cogent and scientifically referenced data about the challeges we face.  Wish that everyone would look at actual facts and experiences challenging our health care system.  The naysayers will face the same health system shortages and costs and devastating consequences of a health catastrophes that we all may.  Don’t they live on the same planet?  We can fix these problems, not destroy the excellent programs that have worked so well for so many decades for the people.  


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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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