Blogs: News & Views

Pharmacists Weigh in on Medicare and Medicaid

Mike Hennessy
Published Online: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
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For pharmacists, a large percentage of your patients are seniors who present with a host of chronic conditions that require multiple medications and careful drug management. Caring for this population presents both challenges and rewards. Many of your senior patients visit multiple times per month, and many of you surely have senior patients you look forward to seeing on a personal level. 

On a professional level, however, you have probably thought about to what degree this age group is affecting the nation’s financial health. Recently, Pharmacy Times conducted a survey of our pharmacist readers that asked, “Do you support making significant cuts in Medicare and Medicaid in order to reduce the national deficit?”

Before I give you the results, I think it is important to realize just how much Medicare and Medicaid affect the country at large. Noted economist Robert J. Samuelson is convinced that the senior lobby, in the form of the AARP, has had a huge impact on our difficult economy. Samuelson and many others believe entitlement programs will continue to impact our future economy greatly.

It’s frightening how much of annual federal spending is fixed and will not budge. Under President Obama’s budget, for instance, annual federal spending rises from $3.7 trillion in 2012 to $5.7 trillion in 2021. Samuelson calls Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid “the three major entitlements,” and he estimates that these account for 60% of the projected $2 trillion increase. More frightening is the fact that an additional 31% of that increase is due to the higher interest payments on our debt.

The clear takeaway from voters during the most recent mid-term elections was taxpayers telling lawmakers that current spending levels across all government programs are unsustainable. The problem is so critical that we might see bipartisan agreement on changing the way we handle entitlements as a first step in reducing spending. For their part, Republicans can stop politicizing cuts by attaching peripheral issues to budget proposals. Democrats must not continue to defend unsustainable spending levels, which cost them dearly in the mid-term elections.

Of course, any thought of tampering with Medicare or Medicaid is political suicide, although Representative Paul Ryan’s (R, WI) recent budget proposal included a good compromise, in that it would provide more choice for seniors while also still offering government assistance. The bottom line is this: spending has to be cut somewhere.

So what did pharmacists say about cutting these programs to help the deficit? A total of 48% said “Yes” we should cut Medicare and Medicaid; whereas 52% said “No.” Nearly half of you who are on the front lines, caring for seniors every day, recognize the need to scale back these programs. We will continue to follow this issue closely in future issues.

Our mission at Pharmacy Times is to provide you with as much information as you can use in your daily practice to do a better job each day. To that end, we have unveiled our new Web site—www.PharmacyTimes.com. As the most accessible health care providers, pharmacists are expected to be a “well” of knowledge for their patients. This new Pharmacy Times Web site, plus our mobile, iPad, and print offerings, are all designed to supply that well with authoritative information to improve pharmacy care.

Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy 

About
Mike Hennessy, Chairman and CEO
Blog Info
Mike Hennessy shares his views and perspectives on issues that affect pharmacists.
Author Bio
ABOUT MIKE HENNESSY, President, Chairman, CEO

Mike Hennessy is President, Chairman, and CEO of MJH & Associates and Intellisphere, LLC, publisher of influential journals in health care, finance, and politics, including Pharmacy Times. Pharmacy Times is a clinically based, monthly journal providing practical information pharmacists can use in their everyday practice. Each issue contains articles and features covering medication errors, drug interactions, patient education, pharmacy technology, disease state management watches, patient counseling, product news, pharmacy law, and specialty pharmacy. Pharmacy Times is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as a provider of free continuing pharmacy education.

As a businessman, entrepreneur, and publisher of magazines, iPad editions, projects, and Web sites that focus on the needs of health care professionals, Hennessy is intimately familiar with the challenges these professionals face every day in today's competitive practice environment. News & Views: Hennessy's Highlights dissects health care policy issues, the impact of pharmacy on national health care, and the critical issues that concern pharmacists as the new health care reform legislation is debated.

As publisher of Pharmacy Times, Mr. Hennessy launched the Next-Generation Pharmacist Awards in partnership with Parata Systems, to recognize the achievements of pharmacists in health care. "As the leader in pharmacy publishing, Pharmacy Times is shining a light on the critical role of the pharmacist in today's health care world and providing invaluable insight into the profession," Mike Hennessy, chairman, chief executive officer, and president said. "We are proud to recognize individual pharmacists in this 2nd annual awards program."

Pharmacy Times is published by Intellisphere, LLC, a leading provider of health care publishing, research, information, and education. Operating within both traditional and digital media channels, Intellisphere serves the needs of health care professionals through an extensive suite of magazines, journals, e-mail databases, Web sites, events and personal meetings. Intellisphere reaches more than half a million health care professionals through Pharmacy Times, Specialty Pharmacy Times, The American Journal of Managed Care, The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, MDNG, HCPlive.com, Oncology & Biotech News, Oncology Net Guide, Contemporary Oncology, and Oncology Net Guide: Nurses' Edition.
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