Tobacco companies are an extreme example of how greed trumps morality in America’s marketplace. Every year roughly 500,000 smokers die from tobacco use and the industry knows it must at least replace those lost customers – plus the ones who successfully quit the addiction.
Americans are starting to feel the bite of the federal sequestration. Sequestration is the term referring to the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts in the federal government’s domestic and military budgets. Sequestration went into effect last month when Congress was unable to agree on an alternative.
Last week, President Obama offered his plan for the federal budget. According to the President, his proposed $3.7 trillion budget for 2014 would cut deficits by $1.8 trillion over the next decade. The President’s plan includes a number of proposals, most notably: ending the “sequester” (that’s the current law that has automatically cut federal spending), reducing spending in the Medicare and Social Security programs, as well as tax increases that would primarily hit high-income households and corporations.
The United States spends more on health care than any other nation on earth. Yet, the U.S. has some of the worst health care outcomes of any nation in the developed world. Why is that? It’s due to the tortured way the nation runs its system.
The 2013-2014 state budget was approved last week, marking the third on-time budget in a row. Three on-time budgets haven’t occurred in a generation, so there was a lot of back-slapping and “at-a-boys” at the Capitol.
This past weekend marked the third anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” This is the ACA’s big year; this Fall Americans will be allowed to start enrolling in health insurance plans. Starting on January 1, 2014, virtually all Americans will be required to have health insurance – either from the government, their employer, or through a health exchange. Yet, even at this late date, many Americans are still unsure of its impact.
It’s well established that the income gap between rich and poor in America has increased over the past few decades. Income inequality among developed nations is highest in the United States. Most of the growth in this inequality has been between the middle class and top earners, with the disparity becoming more extreme the further one goes up in income.
Smoking is New York’s number one cause of cancer deaths. Yet in recent years, the state has taken its foot off the gas and slashed its investment in combating tobacco in half. That’s a mistake we’re starting to pay for.
Consider this: in 2009 smoking caused the cancer deaths of over 9,000 New Yorkers, 26 per day. That staggering number is more than one quarter of all cancer deaths in New York State. This is a public health catastrophe and reducing the carnage caused by smoking should be a top priority for Albany.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the need for regular colon cancer screenings. Also known as colon cancer, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the nation. Each year in New York State, more than 9,300 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed and over 3,000 preventable deaths occur.
The nation faces its latest budget crisis resulting from gridlock in Washington. On March 1, budgetary “sequestration” kicks in. Barring an unlikely last-minute deal, about $85 billion is set to be cut from military, domestic and certain health care programs beginning this Friday.