5 June 2023
Congress and our President finally got the debt ceiling deal done, but we still have a $31.4 trillion (about $97,000 per person in the US) debt, the highest in the world. We spend $4.1 trillion (and growing!) on healthcare annually, with 85% of that going toward the care and treatment of those with chronic disease (sadly, 50% of the population).
Massachusetts gave us a great example of the successful outcomes associated with a state-funded healthcare system, and also the benefits of food aid for the needy. They increased SNAP funding as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; Medicaid growth fell as the food stamp investment increased. Additionally, subsidizing [real] food is good for the local economy; each dollar in federally funded SNAP benefits generates $1.79 in economic activity.
Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes are the leading contributors to death and disability in the United States. Up to 80% of these are caused by these 4 factors:
All of these are areas where the US should be looking to invest, not cut. Getting back to the math...if we could address these lifestyle issues successfully, we could save up to $2.8 trillion per year:
4.1 trillion (annual healthcare spending) x 85% (chronic disease care) x 80% (preventable)
Yes, these programs have costs, but if we know that we save or recoup significantly more than we spend and can save millions from death and disease, it seems the fiscally responsible and right thing to do.