November 2, 2011
As our elected leaders at the state and federal levels continue to wrestle with how best to balance budgets while preserving essential services, continued emphasis is needed on the important role health care will play in the future success of our nation.
In my last two president's messages, I have discussed what I believe to be a short-sighted and ultimately damaging proposal before the federal "super committee" tasked with cutting the $1.3-billion federal deficit; that is, cutting funding to Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs. Preservation of these funds is vital to the successful training of tomorrow's physicians and other health professionals; indeed, a strong argument can be made that funding for such programs should be increased, not trimmed.
An equally compelling argument in the health care funding conversation can be summed up in a single word: economics. Health care spending is one of the main drivers of the U.S. economy, and is only expected to grow as a percentage of GDP in the ensuing decades. (It was at more than 16 percent in 2009, and is projected to be 25 percent or more by 2025.) Writing in the Los Angeles Times last week, Thomas M. Priselac, president and chief executive officer of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, used hospitals as an example of this growth, noting that health care is one of the few economic sectors creating jobs, including 84,000 hospital positions nationwide over the past year.
A variety of factors have contributed to this growth, including the rising overall costs of care itself, so it is unwise to pretend that this trend is only a good thing. Steps must be taken to better manage the overall costs of care, to more fully address the health-care needs of the uninsured and the underinsured, and to develop well-care programs that will reduce not only the costs of care as a whole, but also the need for vastly more expensive acute care later in patients' lives.
But the fact remains that health care is a growth industry in our country and across the globe, and - if managed correctly - can be a force for positive change not only in the priorities we set for ourselves as a people, but also in our economic fortunes. WesternU is well-positioned in this environment, as our emphasis on balancing technical and human skills ensures that our graduates not only are vital members of a growing industry, but also are providing the patient-focused quality of care demanded by society.
With an aging and longer-lived population and a growing emphasis on lifelong care, a robust, accessible system with caring, well-trained professionals in good jobs and good facilities must be a priority for our nation, not an opportunity to cut corners.
As always, I welcome your feedback on this topic and any others as we discuss WesternU's Benchmarks of Value, and our plans. Please e-mail me with your thoughts at email@example.com, and feel free to share this message with your family and friends.
My best to you all,