Here’s why healthy people mean a healthy economy
July 15, 2017
Health care is a big political topic at the moment. Health care is big in another way; health care is one of the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy, according to th eBureau of Labor Statistics. As a first year baby boomer I'll take some credit for that. We boomers are like old cars that start to need general maintenance and have parts replaced.
Another big reason is the change in the nation's health care system. Prior to 2010 there was no overall health care plan in the U.S. The state of Massachusetts had a comprehensive plan designed by the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. The plan was signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney and nicknamed "Romneycare". This plan was the basis for the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare.
The economic effect of the new more comprehensive plan has been a result of the infusion of much more money into health care. Federal tax dollars have been poured into the system, much of which were obtained from new taxes on very wealthy Americans and from some segments of the health industry. Medicaid was expanded in a number of states and many of those individuals had a backlog of medical problems that needed urgent attention. Many people had effective health insurance policies for the first time. The industry has grown to meet the demand.
Not insignificant is also the repair and maintenance of millions of military veterans from what appear to be endless wars in the Middle East. Many of these relatively young people will need lifetime care as a result of their injuries.
Given that Republican politicians gave only lukewarm support to the Social Security Act and Medicare, it was no surprise that no support was given to the Affordable Care Act. Instead, the Republicans voted over and over as a block to repeal the act. Through the years no alternative plan was created by the GOP. Instead, just in recent months did the House and Senate give the matter any attention. Their plan, we must assume, had been to repeal the Affordable Care Act and just not have a plan. Since there was no plan before Affordable Care Act, why even have one? This makes perfect sense when you consider that the GOP opposes any use of tax dollars for health care; or most any other public services. Any actual health care plan is going to need federal money. But something has changed, the American public is happy with the new care and their improved health and financial security. People are even entertaining the idea of a universal plan as have some 30 other major countries.
What I have not heard once in the debate now raging is the huge increase in jobs as a result of this growth in health care. These are jobs that range from cleaning to surgery. This is not just in hospitals but all the businesses that supply the medical industry. Therefore, repealing the Affordable Care Act means a huge hit to the economy.
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What also is seldom if ever mentioned is the downstream effect of the tax dollars that are flowing into health care and other services. The paychecks of these people do not simply evaporate. Money earned becomes money spent and these dollars continue to multiply throughout the greater economy. Every other sector of the economy and much of our population benefit directly.
The Republican Party should heed the Hippocratic Oath: "First do no harm!"