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The Imperative of Investing for the Long-term Health of Our Nation

By Ronny B. Lancaster, Director of The Sullivan Alliance and SVP, Government Relations, Assurant, Inc.


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One need only to utter the word – Invest! – and you can almost begin to see heads nod. There is nearly universal agreement that investment is good – regardless the subject – 401(k)s, infrastructure, college savings plans. And, perhaps, without much debate, we generally agree that investing in the health of our nation is a top priority. With a healthy population, many things are possible. And, without one, little can be accomplished.

U.S. 2019 BudgetAs a nation, we have created important programs to promote health and arrest disease. Unfortunately, we have also demonstrated a lack of sustained, long-term commitment to preserve and strengthen these programs. Instead, we are seduced by the attractiveness of short-term thinking, and we yield to distractions that prevent our commitment to the long-term.

The President’s budget was released earlier this month. Importantly, it requests $10 billion to address the Opioid epidemic. But, it also calls for cuts in funding for NIH, health professions training activities, and patient access programs in Medicare and Medicare. Without a sustained, long-term commitment to these and other programs, which objectively have demonstrated their extraordinary value over many years, we will not realize the promise and potential of our people and country, especially in poor and minority populations. We are reminded that while we are the wealthiest country on earth, the World Health Organization ranks our national health system as 37th in the world.

Some of our most successful presidents had the ability to lay out, and the strength to commit to, a long-term vision. FDR gave us Social Security, Eisenhower – the National Interstate Highway System, and Johnson – Medicare and Medicaid. These programs, each over 50 years in existence and counting, have contributed over generations, significantly to our quality of life. Today, each is an indispensable part of America.

As a nation, we must recommit ourselves to supporting critical health programs and rediscover the necessity of committing to the long-term health of our nation.

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