2017 SOTU Backdrop Part VII – Affordable Healthcare

This question must be asked. "What reasoning can possibly justify legalizing drug addiction for tax revenue?" Creating millions of addicts is somehow unseemly.

Mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): The U.S. Department of HHS is to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans. To fulfill that mission by providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services.

Healthcare Tab: Cost for 2016 is expected to surpass $10,000 per person. The new peak means the past administration will pass the problem of high healthcare costs on to its successor. The report projects that healthcare spending will grow at a faster rate than the national economy over the coming decade.

National healthcare expenditures are expected to total over $3.35 trillion for the year, or approximately 18% of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of $18.5 trillion for the U.S.

HHS 11 Operating Divisions: There are eight agencies in the U.S. Public Health Services, and three human services agencies. These divisions administer a wide variety of health and human services and conduct life-saving research for the nation, protecting and serving all Americans. HHS Demographics trends, index scores, and workforce size.

Determining what is affordable healthcare is beyond the scope and purview of this research activity. However, something alarming regarding the charge to protect the health and well-being of Americans has been identified as the area of focus. There are very significant costs and detrimental health effects which are the result of fraud, malpractice, legal and illegal drugs; of which the annual, and long-term costs and effects are not determined in total. From the data located, costs range in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually, the loss of tens of thousands of lives, and effectively dilute the value of healthcare provided. These items are addressed here:

Note: A significant number of reports are available on HHS subjects. Some are statistics driven by data from federal government sources, other reports use selected data from the original reports for a specific purpose, and some reports are independently sponsored by universities and research institutions. Occasionally, disagreements arise over the data and statistics, which is quite possible as different sources are used. Keep in mind that for accurate comparison, data and statistics must represent the same population (samples) and characteristics. Disagreements do not imply either report or party is in error. Reports are not always tabulated to the current year. However, the direction of movement in the historical data may be indicative of the future.

Fraud Losses:

The $272 Billion Swindle: Thieves love America’s health-care system. INVESTIGATORS in New York were looking for health-care fraud hot-spots. In 2012 a former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the RAND Corporation, estimated that fraud (and the extra rules and inspections required to fight it) added as much as $98 billion, or roughly 10%, to annual Medicare and Medicaid spending—and up to $272 billion across the entire health system. Considering there is some association to reality here, in 2016 a 10% loss of a $3.5 trillion expenditure, would be $350 billion, or 60% of the 2017 Department of Defense (DOD) budget. Despite the penalties associated with conviction, they do not appear to be significant enough. Complete loss of license and property, as in the days of long ago, appears to be needed.

Drug Trafficking:

Drug Trafficking: $200-$750 billion in 2013. Drug trafficking is an issue worldwide and defined as the “global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Drug Use:

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Research has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes among adolescent students nationwide. Survey participants report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. Overall, 45,473 students from 372 public and private schools participated in this year's Monitoring the Future survey. The survey is funded by the NIDA, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and conducted by the University of Michigan.

Teen Substance Use: Surveys show a promising decline. The 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) annual survey results released December 13, 2016 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reflect changing teen behaviors and choices in a social media-infused world. The results show a continued long-term decline in the use of many illicit substances, including marijuana, as well as alcohol, tobacco, and misuse of some prescription medications, among the nation’s teens. The MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders, and is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the NIH.

Marijuana Trends: In daily use, risk, disapproval, and availability. With a national trend on approving the cultivation and sale of marijuana, originally for medical purposes, now for recreational purposes, the daily usage and availability of the drug by children in grades 8, 10 and 12 is alarming. While a large percentage of students state they disapprove of marijuana use, a decreasing number see use as a risk, and the higher the grade level, the higher the percentage of students using the drug.

Monitoring the Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs. Johnston, L. D., Miech, R. A., O'Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (December 13, 2016). "Teen use of any illicit drug other than marijuana at new low, same true for alcohol." University of Michigan News Service.

Statistics and Trends: Six percent of high school seniors report daily use of marijuana. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Its use is widespread among young people. According to a yearly survey of middle and high school students.

Drug and Alcohol Use: College-Age Adults in 2015. Daily marijuana use has grown continuously, and since 2014, cocaine use by college students has increased significantly.

Increasing number of U.S. adults using marijuana. The number of adults who first used marijuana increased from 823,000 in 2002 to 1.4 million in 2014. The estimate is that the number of daily or near daily users was 8.4 million 2014, an increase from 3.9 million in 2002.

Adolescent alcohol and marijuana use leads to poor performance. A study by the nonprofit RAND Corporation that followed a group of students over a seven-year period found marijuana use was predictive of poorer functioning across more areas, including lower academic functioning, being less prepared for school, more delinquent behavior and poorer mental health. The results are published online in the journal Addiction.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the United States. Is marijuana addictive? Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to physical and psychological marijuana addiction. Heavy, long-term marijuana users develop physical dependence on the drug and withdrawal symptoms upon quitting. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms typically include irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety, impaired appetite and aggression.

Again, this question must be asked. "What reasoning can possibly justify legalizing drug addiction for tax revenue?" Creating millions of addicts is somehow unseemly.

Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost? Substance abuse costs our Nation over $600 billion annually and treatment can help reduce these costs. Drug addiction treatment has been shown to reduce associated health and social costs by far more than the cost of the treatment itself. But, is it reasonable to provide a climate for the problem in the first place.

Posted in SOTU Backdrop.