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Cast your vote for debt reduction

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 11:50 a.m. CDT

I recently wrote an article on the upcoming elections.  The race between the two parties is tight and the rhetoric is, unbelievably, more strident than ever.  In the last article, we noted the importance of this election and the potential impact it will have on the future of our country.  We also discussed the importance of every vote, especially those in swing states like Iowa, and I encouraged you to do your research and cast an informed ballot in November.  We ended last time with a note that in this article, we would talk about which party is best for health care.  Here is the answer, in the best “political speak” possible – both and neither!   Don’t stop reading yet; I’ll explain what I mean.

Both parties are good for health care in that both candidates have publicly stated the need for reforming our system to better focus it on the needs of the patient and reduce cost.  But they each have different approaches.  Democrats lean toward government oversight and management of the system while Republicans lean toward individual choice and participation.  Neither is good for the system in that both have proposed significant reductions in payment for health care.  You may remember that part of the payment mechanism for the Affordable Care Act was a $150,000,000,000 (yes, “billion”) reduction in payment to hospitals during the next 10 years.  This is just one part of the total reduction already planned with other cuts affecting physicians, pharmaceutical companies, device companies, etc.  The Republican plan has similar reductions programmed in, just different methods of getting there.

You may be surprised to read this, but as a hospital administrator, I don’t think the candidates’ plans for health care are really what we need to focus on.  As I noted, both plans have similar outcomes, just different approaches.  What really concerns me as a hospital administrator is what should concern everyone else in our county as well – the exploding level of debt our government has taken on.  If we don’t address the issue of debt, the approach to health care won’t matter much.  In an article published recently, it was reported that the share of the current debt that each American household would need to pay if our creditors asked for repayment today is $136,000!  If we added nothing to the debt from now on, each of us would need to pay a second mortgage for 30 years just to pay off what we already owe!  Our country has borrowed more than a trillion dollars for each of the last four years and has a total debt of $16,000,000,000,000 (yes, “trillion”).  Nearly one-third of every dollar spent by the federal government is borrowed. If we do nothing, by the year 2040, 10 percent of all the dollars spent by every individual, corporation, and government entity in our country will be focused on paying the interest on the debt.  You read right, one out of every 10 dollars spent by anyone in America will go toward paying just the interest on the government debt by 2040!

So who should we vote for in terms of their stance on health care?  Whichever candidate and party we think will do the best job in reducing the debt. 

Please know, there is much more to the election than just this topic.  The two candidates differ widely in their views on the economy, foreign policy, social issues, and the list goes on.  Rarely is such a stark choice presented to the American people.  The key is to study the positions of each candidate and make an educated choice based on your personal belief in what is best for our country.  Please do this, then vote on Nov. 6.

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