Health care reform is beneficial spending

Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I would like to offer a context for the economic and human impact of the health care reform legislation characterized by Gov. Sean Parnell as "forcing" people into a health care plan they don't want, and that the country can't afford ("State AG reviewing health care legislation," March 23).

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the health care bill will cost $940 billion over 10 years ( This amounts to just under $790 per family, or $250 per person a year.

To put this in perspective, health care costs currently average $8,160 for every man, woman and child in the United States, according to a study by the Department of Health and Human Services. (To be conservative, I did not factor in findings by the CBO that the bill will cut the federal deficit by $130 billion over the next decade, and $1.2 trillion in the second decade of implementation.)

In contrast, the 2010 military budget is $680 billion. President Obama has requested an additional $33 billion in supplemental spending to cover military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense-related expenditures outside of the Department of Defense such as nuclear weapons research, maintenance, cleanup and production, Veterans Affairs, payments in pensions to military retirees and their families, interest on the national debt incurred in past wars, and State Department financing of foreign arms sales and military-related development assistance constitute between $216 billion and $361 billion in additional spending, bringing the total for defense spending to between $880 billion and $1.03 trillion in fiscal year 2010 alone.

More importantly, unlike the health care bill, the defense budget will not improve the quality of American lives. Health care reform will provide coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans, while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in 5,415 American deaths and more than 100,000 civilian casualties.

As Tax Day approaches, Alaskans might take the opportunity to reflect on how we want our tax dollars spent - on publicly funded war or publicly funded health care.

Cindy Litman


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