by David T. Bruce
As a society, we may have become numb to the reality that we have spent almost ten years in the Middle East, engaged in conflicts with Afghanistan and Iraq. Now we find that we are compelled to join NATO in support of Libyan rebels. To support our troops (an admirable incentive) and our habit, billions of dollars must be allocated for defense.
According to information provided by the National Journal, the Pentagon has requested $708.3 billion for this year, including $159.3 billion to continue our campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the first day of operation in Libya, the United States spent approximately $100 million. Following the initial attacks on the forces of Colonel Gaddifi, we have recently pledged additional military assistance by sending armed drone aircraft into Libya. This amounts to an additional $25 million of “nonlethal” [really?] military assistance.
At the same time, our representatives want to eliminate $1 trillion from the Medicaid program over the next ten years, or $84 billion a year. This suggests that much of the money once used for healthcare in the United States is to be reallocated to support the habits of the Pentagon.
We have money enough to send “nonlethal” assistance to foreign countries, while we simultaneously propose cutbacks in what our representatives call “entitlements.” The result of denying the disabled, elderly, and low-income citizens of America from having these “entitlements” is indeed lethal. Apparently, saving lives of citizens in other countries is humane, while saving the lives of Americans at home is an entitlement. Yes, we need to make changes to the Medicaid (and Medicare) programs, but perhaps the fault of the misuse or abuse is less of an indictment against the patients.
It is remarkable and yet interesting to journey down Constitution Avenue in Washington D. C. Observe and take note of the buildings that line either side of the street: the Federal Trade Commission, the National Archives, the Department of Justice, the National Museum of Natural History, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Commerce, the National Aquarium, the Federal Reserve, the Albert Einstein Memorial, and . . . the American Pharmaceutical Association? . . . yes, the American Pharmaceutical Association.
Is it possible that the problem is not abuse of the system by the patients and more of an abuse of the system by providers and pharmaceutical companies? Many incidents may be cited in which service was provided for no reason other than the bill was covered by Medicaid. The cost of medication is on the rise, and I question whether or not pressure is being put on the pharmaceutical companies to keep their costs down. Instead, patients are targeted. At some point, voters must realize that our elected representatives lobby for large businesses when they should be lobbying for their constituents.