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Jan22
Tanking Stocks + Credit Crunch + Recession = Fundamental Health Reform?
In a surprise move, the Federal Reserve Bank cut a key short-term interest ratecrisis.jpeg this morning to 3.5%.  This cut occured to help reassure the markets after a global sell off of US stocks yesterday.  This move, is the latest indication that government is very worried about a major recession.  

Economic concerns helped to fuel a push for fundamental health reform in the 1990s. Thus, it is not surprising that many are linking the country’s current financial situation to calls for major changes to the US health system.  We all know how the latest effort panned out.  However, this time things feel a little bit different.  It all has to do with the debt-spending spiral American consumers and the government have gotten into.  Here’s why:

1.    Consumers fueled the American economy with expectations they could continue to use their homes as ATMs.  While some used their home equity to finance vacations new cars and gleaming kitchens, others used the money to cover medical expenses.  With home prices tanking and the home ATM running dry, increasing numbers of Americans will have no where to turn to for funds if medical expenses grow exponentially – even if they have insurance.
2.    Our government is in serious financial trouble.  Currently, the president and Congress are discussing a stimulus package, which they hope will rev up the economy.  Unfortunately, this action does little to address our long-term problems.  Healthcare inflation continues unabated and the US deficit is nearing unmanageable levels.  By injecting billions into the system, we will be using borrowed funds to fuel spending that may or may not occur.  

These are just two of the problems we face.  With these issues weighing on Americans’ minds, will they call for some type of fundamental change to the health system?  Will they ask  that government moves to:

1.    Provide Americans with a better safety net by ensuring basic care for all?

2.    Cap rising medical costs through a combination of better information and limited price controls?

Only time will tell if this latest economic crisis will be short-lived or long lasting.  However, what’s most clear is that as the economy worsens, look for Americans to ask for even more from their government – especially in the area of healthcare.  

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