Letters to the Editor

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HEALTH: More must be done to cut costs

Letter by Lyle Laws, Puyallup on Jan. 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm with No Comments »
January 14, 2013 10:01 am

The federal government has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends, and if some meaningful spending cuts are not made, absolute financial ruin lies ahead. But while doing so is much easier said than done, I heard an idea that could offer some significant promise.

In a discussion about how to cope with the massive cost increases and the doctor shortages that universal health care may well bring about, a retired doctor was a panel member. Basically, he said that except for true emergency situations such as heart attacks, strokes or serious injuries, instead of going directly to doctors, people receiving Medicare or Medicaid benefits should first to go to well-qualified nurse practitioners who could probably resolve their problems satisfactorily 80 percent of the time and could also prescribe medication and refer them on to MDs if necessary.

The combined cost of Medicare and Medicaid represent a large portion of our yearly federal budget. According to Wikipedia, Medicare consumes 15 percent of the budget and Medicaid on average takes 22 percent of each state’s budget. The federal government reimburses states about 57 percent of that amount.

Every time Congress spends $1 billion, it puts the names of our children and grandchildren on an IOU for $400 million, and the U.S. government currently spends more than $10 billion a day.

Good luck, kids.

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