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The 2008 Budget

February 6, 2007

Blood lab work…………………………………………………………………….$1,301.00
CT Scan……………………………………………………………………………….$3,193.00 ER…………………………………………………………………………………………..$665.00 Drugs…………………………………………………………………………………………$91.35 EKG/ECG………………………………………………………………………………..$282.00
Total Charges for 2-hour ER visit……………………………………….$5,532.35

Bush’s budget proposal for 2008……………………………………..Questionable

These are the costs of my recent visit to an emergency clinic when I was having chest pain and shortness of breath. Thankfully, it was just swollen lung tissue for which I just had to take anti-inflammatory medications. At the time of my visit, I did not have my insurance card yet, because I recently started a new job, so they admitted me as an uninsured patient and whenever I would receive my insurance information, I had to call them so they could submit the claim. Nonetheless, I still received this bill, which quoted, “if hospital costs are a financial burden for you, financial aid is available…” And I thought to myself: “Over five-thousand dollars for a 2-hour visit? And you’re asking me IF this is a financial burden? Is this a joke?”

Back in 2005, I had these same chest pains, for which I went through MRIs, stress tests, EKG, numerous medications, etc. The result was the same: swollen lung tissue, but the costs were much more. Even though my insurance covered most of it, I still had to pay a few thousand dollars, because of the high final costs. It was then a financial burden for me, even though I had a quite comfortable income, to the extent that I stopped buying my medications, because I couldn’t afford them anymore. My point: I don’t want to imagine how the millions of people without health insurance deal with their health problems. We personally know those who cannot afford their medications and do not take them even if their life is at risk.

Bottom line: health care is an enormous problem in this country and based on what I have read so far on the President’s budget proposal for 2008, these issues will only get worse. Increased defense budget and national parks paired with Medicaid cuts are just a few items that I personally do not understand from his proposal. Democrats oppose fiercely, but they also realize the challenge of coming up with a budget on their own, which the President faced when structuring his proposal. My main frustration is that we are adapting the budget to fit the costs of this unjustified war. I supported this war in the beginning and even questioned anyone who criticized the President—even Pope John Paul II. But enough is enough. In regards to cuts to the Medicaid and Medicare, I agree wholeheartedly with AARP’s Bill Novelli, “[Medicaid and Medicare savings] piecemeal cuts that threaten to damage critical programs without addressing the fundamental problems that exist in our entire health care system.”

Bush pushes his budget by stating that it covers the nation’s current priorities that “My formula for a balanced budget reflects the priorities of our country at this moment in its history: protecting the homeland and fighting terrorism, keeping the economy strong with low taxes and keeping spending under control while making federal programs more effective.”

Here is a summary of the President’s budget and its effects on some State programs:

Boosts:

– A record 784 billion dollars for national defense for three fiscal years (an additional 235 billion dollars). This will result in boosts for military facilities and defense-related programs across the country.
– $2.4 billion national parks budget
– Increase in the maximum Pell grant for low-income students, from the current $4,050 to $4,600.
– $15 million to improve Native American student achievement.
– Increased funding for Food and Drug Administration to about $2.1 billion. The increases focused on strengthening food safety and getting more generic drugs to the market.
– Funding for the National Institutes of Health, which oversees medical research, would rise nearly 2 percent to about $28.7 billion.

Cuts:

– Trim Medicare spending by $66 billion over five years by lowering reimbursement rates for physicians and hospitals. The cuts to Medicaid would come in part from curbing payments to states for administrative costs, which will make it harder for states to fund health care for the poor and the uninsured.
– Cuts that would threaten the future of clinics in the Urban Indian Health Program.
– Rural health outreach and flexibility grants would be eliminated. Both grant programs are designed to encourage greater access to health care in rural areas.
– A 22 percent cut in funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that keeps families warm if they cannot afford heating costs.
– The near-elimination of the Community Oriented Policing System program, which would largely end federal funding for police hiring.An additional $4.2 billion in funding over five years for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage to about 6 million people, but increasing costs would make the program cost about $15 billion annually to maintain current health insurance coverage.
– Estimated $50 million reduction for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is the principal agency for protecting the health and safety of all Americans.
– Grants to states for bioterrorism preparation would be reduced.

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