The welfare system is crashing, healthcare is broken and the politicians are paralyzed by personal attacks and inaction.
Roads, bridges, municipal sewer, water systems, and electrical power capacity need attention. Urban areas are starved for high capacity speed transit and operating transportation systems are in dire need of upgrade and repair. Public schools are underfunded and victimized by ideological fights. A living wage may require two to three jobs should that poorly paid work be available.
Welcome to America!
A fix would require a bipartisan commitment to the nation and trillions of dollars. The longer the commitment is delayed the more difficult and expensive is the resolution. Does the nation have the will to address its fundamental problems? Typically, U.S. leaders divert attention abroad.
In January presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders submitted a $1 trillion infrastructure bill dubbed the “Rebuild America Act.” The money would be spent over five years and focus on the nation’s transportation systems.
Sanders said, “A $1 trillion investment in infrastructure could support 13 million decent-paying jobs and make our country more efficient, productive and safer.” He suggests that the expenditures would directly benefit Americans and cost less than the misguided Bush/Cheney Iraq war.
Public assistance abuse and the growing number of people on the dole are fodder for conservative groups. Welfare subsidies cost $152.8 billion annually.
There is good reason to be concerned. A new paradigm is needed for how we serve the needy. The cash payout model must be revisited. The abuse costing millions of tax dollars a year must be thwarted. There are many myths about public assistance. Here are some facts (source Cheatsheet, Megan Elliot):
- In 2012 more than 20 percent of the U.S. population received public assistance;
- Participation in welfare programs grew from 18.6 percent in 2009 to 21.3 percent in 2012;
- The average monthly benefit is $400;
- Thirty-nine percent of children and 17 percent of adults benefited from public assistance;
- Forty-three percent of people receive benefits for 37 to 48 months. About 30 percent had been on welfare less than one year;
- Families led by single parents were more likely to receive benefits;
- People who attend college are less likely to receive benefits;
- Single mothers tend to receive less in benefits per month; and
- African-Americans are more likely to receive benefits than other groups.
Addressing welfare inefficiency and abuse requires better oversight and sensible workloads for social service workers. This investment in staff will pay dividends in curtailing misuse and ending waste. New ways to reach out to the needy in the way of goods, shelter, food and services are critical to controlling assistance costs. New approaches are essential to protect critical safety nets for the needy.
Many opportunities have been lost to provide all Americans healthcare. Each attempt has been a victim of profiteering, greed, and corruption. Those responsible for denying universal health care to Americans include healthcare insurance conglomerates, pharmacy corporations, hospitals, professional medical associations and doctors.
America’s healthcare structure is broken. About 18 percent of citizens are uninsured and an equal number are underinsured with policies demanding deductibles that are unaffordable to millions of families.
Obamacare falls far short of an efficient coverage model. Efforts protecting private sector coverage, for-profit hospitals, and the lack of pharmacy cost control, makes universal healthcare unaffordable.
The answer lies in a single-payer national healthcare plan. The nation has one for seniors. It’s called Medicare. It should be expanded to all citizens. We remain the only wealthy country that does not provide universal healthcare. Profits have taken precedence over the nation’s health.
Political leadership infighting must give way for productive action. Countries and corporations have collapsed with failed leadership. A focus on U.S. poverty, needed universal healthcare, and community infrastructure renewal, requires political will, collaboration, and every available dollar.
Marc J. Yacht, MD is a retired physician living in Hudson Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.