Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg
The GOP and President Trump promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “better”. On Friday, a draft of their effort was obtained by Politico. True to their promise, they plan to scrap the individual mandate, rely on health savings accounts, and give tax credits to help citizens purchase health insurance. The scariest part of the plan? The GOP is gutting our public health system.
According to the draft, the Prevention and Public Health Fund will end after 2018, funding for the Community Health Center Program will be gutted, and payments to keep safety net hospitals afloat will end. Additionally, Medicaid will turn into “block grants” to states and the amount of funding they will receive is a pittance compared to current amounts received by most states. What will this do to the health of our country?
Good health is required to keep a strong work force and a public health system is vital to national security. Providing basic care is cheap and saves a lot of money in the long run. By gutting public health, we are exposing our country to multiple risks.
- Approximately 24 million people get their health care through community health centers. Health centers are very efficient and can provide full primary care, dental, and mental health care at an average cost of $1,000 per person per year and most of the funding is through federal grants. Those who receive care through community health centers are the working poor – housekeepers, construction workers, fast food employees, etc. Where will these people get their health care? It is very difficult to show up to work if you are sick. Of course, they will end up in emergency departments and the costs will be passed on to everyone else.
- Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are responsible for a large part of our health care expenditures. Obesity is considered a threat to our national security. Preventing these diseases will save money and keep our country healthier. The GOP’s legislation wipes out the funds to do this. I’m surprised the Trump administration hasn’t removed this page that outlines the programs funded by the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Losing these will be a travesty.
- Bioterrorist events will happen throughout our lifetime. We must have a strong public health system to be prepared for the use of agents such as Agent VX which was used to kill Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the leader of North Korea. Likewise, epidemics such as Zika and Ebola can be more easily contained with a strong public health system.
- Safety net hospitals take care of poor people who are very ill – these hospitals will not survive without the funding provided by DSH payments through Medicare. These patients will end up in non-safety net hospitals which will subsequently pass on the costs to paying patients.
There are plenty of examples where a strong public health system can decrease illness and the subsequent cost. The GOP is intent on cutting all discretionary expenditures and public health to them is a discretionary item. Unfortunately, their attack on public health is a prime example of being penny wise and pound foolish. Maybe they should reconsider their plan and make public health a cornerstone of the health care system.
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This article was sourced from http://thenewsearch.com