A recent Daily Caller column criticized me for advocating disease prevention and cures instead of trillion-dollar Medicare treatments after a disease is at the catastrophic level. Likewise, at last week’s Republican debate, I was attacked for stating the obvious. Stabbing seniors in the back and then calling it a back massage is no way to earn people’s trust. Many Republicans refer to Medicare and Social Security as welfare programs. These are neither welfare or “government entitlements,” but earned benefits that belong to seniors — not Washington.
If we want to save money, we should focus on cures and the prevention of diseases, not cuts to the sick and elderly.
Republicans are kidding themselves if they think slashing benefits for seniors and giving them a worthless healthcare voucher is a comprehensive solution. Medicare costs keep swelling, and the $2.2 trillion Obamacare disaster has only made things worse.
Two decades ago, HIV/AIDS was a death sentence, but today it’s a manageable condition. As a nation, we have cured Polio and smallpox, put a man on the moon, mapped the human genome, and pioneered robotic surgery.
Chronic disease accounts for 85 percent of Medicare spending. The primary cost-drivers are Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. We should target these incredibly expensive diseases instead of upending our entire healthcare system.
We spend $200 billion on Alzheimer’s and $90 billion on cancer treatment alone each year. I lost my mother-in-law to Alzheimer’s, and this horrible disease will cost us $1.1 trillion by the year 2050. Heart disease and stroke lead to 740,000 deaths each year, including $313 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity. Diabetes treatment and management is pushing toward $500 billion per year. Imagine how much time, money, and agony we could save ourselves if we cured these tragic diseases? Our entire healthcare payment system is designed to treat and manage diseases. Isn’t it time we reassess our system and focus on cost-saving cures?
The New York Times recently reported that in addition to the direct medical costs for an Alzheimer’s patient, the non-reimbursed cost of long-term care and expenses the family will be obligated to cover will average over $287,000! And it’s impossible to quantify the monetary value of the loss of income of the caregiver and emotional and spiritual impact the disease has on the family.
Democrats stole $700 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund to pay for Obamacare. This past week, Congress raided another $150 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund and borrowed more money from our grandchildren. For decades, Washington politicians have been pillaging these trust funds like a never-ending piggybank. In Florida, Medicare fraud is more lucrative than drug dealing. After all this mess, it will take more than spending cuts and vouchers to protect these programs.
Chronic disease is the fire that fuels Medicare’s growth and we need to get serious about real cures. The National Institutes of Health have resources of more than $30 billion each year, but sadly, Washington politics and senseless bureaucracy has poisoned the research process.
Billions are squandered each year on politically motivated pet projects like ‘gun disease’ prevention, drunken monkey research, coffee enemas, sexual studies, and junk science that doesn’t change the lives of hurting Americans. Relative to private sector research, some estimate that 50 percent of all NIH funding is squandered by bureaucracy, overhead, waste and duplication. Imagine the Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and diabetes breakthroughs we could achieve if we invested the wasted $15 billion in tax dollars each year to find a cure?
I’m running for president to burn down the corrupt Washington political machine and rebuild America. If I’m attacked for protecting seniors and investing in cures for costly, debilitating diseases, than so be it. It’s the right thing to do mathematically and morally.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is a 2016 Republican candidate for president of the United States