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Introduction Have you ever wondered exactly what the government does for our country in regards to health care? Many have the impression that the government is not really of much assistance to them. However, in reality, the government does more than most people realize. The government actually plays a vital role in health care but most people look past it. I am sure very few people have actually sat down and pondered or even have done research to find out the impact of the government’s role in health care. However, I intend to clear up this misconception.

The federal and state governments are the largest supporters of health care services in the United States. Examples of support that our government provides include assisting those who are in need of health care with numerous options such as Medicare and Medicaid, the employment of millions of people, and billions of dollars each year for new discoveries, treatments, and cures. To start off, the government does indeed offer great assistance with programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, two of the largest programs that the government is involved in.

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Medicaid serves low-income families, and Medicare is for those that are sixty-five years or older, as well as those that are disabled. Medicare is the “second largest segment of the federal budget, second only to Social Security payments” (Manning) . Medicare alone covers about 45 million people, with 38 million being 65 or older, and the other 7 million being disabled. Medicare is “funded by the federal government as well as individual contributions from beneficiaries for premiums, copayments, and coinsurance” (Jaffe).

On the other hand, Medicaid covers about 61 million people and is paid for by a combination of federal and state funds. Not only does the government provide those who are in need with Medicare and Medicaid, but there is also the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This program began in 1997, and is paid for jointly by the federal and state governments. Although this program is not free, enrollment fees are as low as $50 or less per family, depending on their income. The program covers roughly 7 million children with families that are unable to qualify for Medicaid.

CHIP has benefits such as “prescription drugs and vaccines, Eye exams and glasses, Hospital care and services, and treatment of special health needs” (Commission). These programs provided by the government are there to help those who cannot afford insurance, which I, for one, am grateful for. Insurance is not affordable to many families due to the economy and I feel that just because a family or an individual cannot afford insurance does not mean they should not be able to attain it.

If these programs were not available, then there would be many more sick or dying people across the nation because of lack of care. The reason I am in favor of these programs is because they have helped my family tremendously. For example, if my mother did not have Medicaid when she was pregnant, she would have had to pay a costly hospital bill. Furthermore, the government acts as an employer to individuals. States have created many different types of state-owned health care organizations that provide services to patients who cannot afford health care.

“These services include assistance from general acute-care hospitals, specialty hospitals (mental hospitals), general health clinics, and specialized clinics (STD, family planning, maternal, and child health programs)” (The Role of State Government). All the employees of these hospitals and clinics are employees of the state government. Since the federal government is considered an employer, it “pays for a large share of the health coverage of nearly 9 million federal workers and their dependents, through Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program” (Jaffe) .

The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program serves about 8. 5 million people, including the president, members of Congress, federal employees, retirees, and their families. This program is a system of competing private health plans in which the government contributes a relatively fixed amount toward the employee coverage and employees pay a premium based on the cost of the individual plan they choose. The Federal Employee Health benefit program is the largest employer health insurance program in the United States, insuring about 3 percent of all Americans.

There are 133 plans, offering 188 coverage options that are participating in the FEHBP as of 2003. Preferred provider organization (PPO), fee-for-service plans, and Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) all offer options. The government’s contribution toward the cost of the beneficiary’s premium is “lesser of 72 percent of the average FEHBP plan premium, weighted by enrollment, or 75 percent of the premium for the plan chosen” (Karen Davis) . Just as importantly, the government funds and provides health care directly to many others who work or have previously worked for the federal government as well.

Programs such as the “Defense Department” are for active-duty and retired personnel and their families that visit facilities owned by the government, using health care providers who work for the government. Nearly 7. 8 million veterans out of the 25 million in the veteran population receive care directly from the Veterans Health Administration, a division of the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). This care is also delivered in government owned facilities, by providers employed by the government.

The Indian Health Service, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), runs a health care system that provides care directly to approximately 1. 9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in 35 states. The program is called TRICARE for Life and “anyone who is retired from the uninformed services who is entitled to Medicare Part A and enrolled in Medicare Part B is eligible as are the dependents of those on active duty” (Families USA). Usually individuals in TRICARE often face similar challenges in navigating their health insurance that those with private employer-sponsored health insurance do.

To be eligible for the insurance for active duty personnel or retirees an individual must be family members and survivors of active duty personnel, a retiree and their family members and survivors under the age of 65, and reserve component family members if reserve member is activated for more than 30 consecutive days. I personally think that jobs in health care funded by the government are more promising than other jobs. With a government job, there are many more opportunities such as certain benefits for yourself and your family and it is more secure.

This makes it that more of a reason why plenty of people look into these jobs first. No matter what the government will always exist. As I mentioned before funds and provides healthcare directly to individuals as well as have different types of state owned health organizations that are ran by people they actually employ. I for one would rather have a government job than a regular one where a company can just go out of business any day and be disbanded. Moreover, the government also provides billions of dollars each year for new discoveries, treatments, and cures for various illnesses.

For instance, the government funds research for the cure and treatments for cancer, Blood Diseases such as Anemia, Leukemia, and Hemophilia, and even AIDS. As far as Cancer, research the NCI (National Cancer Institute) receives its funds from the Congress, as a federal agency. NCI is the Nations principal agency for cancer research and coordinates the National Cancer Program. Over the past 6 years the “budget for the research has been averaging approximately $4. 9 billion per year” (National Cancer Institute).

There are also other federal agencies, state and local governments, private institutions, voluntary organizations that spend substantial amounts of money on cancer-related research. As for the research for blood diseases and research, the government spends about $371,719,000 a year to fund the program for research. Funding encompasses a broad spectrum of hematologic inquiry, ranging from stem cell biology to medical management of blood diseases and to assuring the adequacy and safety of the nation’s blood supply.

The research is on but not limited to pathophysiology, diagnosis, treatment, prevention of non-malignant blood diseases (anemia’s, sickle cell disease, thalassemia), Hemophilia etc. The programs also “supports the development of novel cell-based therapies to bring the expertise of transfusion medicine and stem cell technology to the repair and regeneration of human tissues and organs” (Blood Diseases and Resource Research). When it comes to research from AIDS there is also money that is donated just for the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

In January 2003, President Bush announced the creation of PEPFAR; the President is Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and a commitment to significantly increase the spending on HIV and AIDS initiatives around the world. This plan was to run for five years, intended to direct $25 billion to places that where it is needed most. PEPFAR was renewed in July 2008 with the intention of the United States spending about $ 48 billion from 2009 to 2013 on programs to tackle HIV and AIDS as well as tuberculosis and malaria.

This program is served as an umbrella for all existing HIV and AIDS related funding being provided by the government, which also includes the HIV-related funding that was previously distributed through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). PEPFAR funding is disbursed in “accordance with the political views of the US government” (Funding for AIDS and HIV Epidemic). In addition to all the programs that were mentioned there are two other very important programs, The U. S.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U. S. Food and Drug Administration. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention “works to protect public health and safety through disease and prevention control, especially for infectious diseases but also in areas like safety on the job” (Jaffe). The CDC is committed to programs that reduce the health and economic consequences of the leading causes of death and disability, thereby ensuring a long, productive, healthy life for all people. The U. S.

Food and Drug Administration regulates and supervises the safety of foods, dietary supplements, drugs, vaccines, biological medical products, blood products, and medical devices , in effect , about a quarter of the nation’s overall economic output . The FDA enforces laws, notably Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act and other regulations, many of which are not directly related to food or drugs. These include sanitation requirements on interstate travel and control of disease on certain products.

They are also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed a number of innovations that make medicines more effective, safer, and more affordable, also by helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to maintain and improve their health. Their responsibilities are not limited there; FDA also regulates the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products to protect the public health and to reduce tobacco use by minors. In my opinion I feel that they government is very wise on what they actually fund.

There are plenty of programs like the ones I previously mentioned that are there to help those that are in need for different discoveries, that will help better those that are ill as well as just general research that can change the lives of millions. There were many researches that the government helps with funding but the ones I named were the ones that I felt had more of an effect in people’s lives. Without the funding for the treatments, research, and cures there honestly mostly likely would be a higher death rate. With the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U. S.

Food and Drug Administration, the funding is to better the health of millions. The government has quite a few strengths. Nevertheless, just to name two, with the government backing up health care there are chances for medical facilities and new technologies. Like previously stated, the government assists in providing different types of services from places such as general acute-care hospitals, general health clinics, and specialty hospitals. They not only provide the services there but they do at times provide the facilities as well as the new technology there, which makes for a better facility and healthier people.

More people are now surviving diseases such as cancer and heart disease due to the ability to diagnose them earlier than previously capable. For example, with another use of technology in healthcare it has brought us new drugs that can target more precisely the particular cancer cells along with being more targeted in other areas. There are also some weaknesses such as Medicare and Medicaid having restrictions. Medicare is specifically for those with low-income families. Although it is made for those who are in need of it, it is not for everyone to attain.

You must meet low income and limited asset test in your State and an individual is limited to a Medicaid licensed facility with an available bed. Same thing goes for Medicare the restrictions are that you must be 65 or older and have a disability. Not only are there certain restrictions but there are structural and financial problems for Medicaid. If these problems persist then it can cause funding to be cut drastically which will affect those who do not have any Medicaid and those who plan to get some in the near future.

With cuts, there would be millions of people that still do not have any insurance, more people dying, and sicker people in general. The opportunities to name a few are that the Congress is passing a prescription discount card for the elderly. This would be benefiting to the elderly when purchasing prescription drugs especially with the extra benefits that comes with Medicare. The threats are that taxes would be increased which would be more money that people would have to spend a year.

Another threat would be the fact that there is a rising number of the 65 year or older for Medicare and it is rapidly growing more than the working population who is paying for the plan. Works Cited * Jaffe, Susan. “Health Policy Brief. ” Health Affairs. 20 Aug. 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. http://www. rwjf. org/files/research/82409healthaffairs7. pdf. * Government Has Crucial Role in Health-Care Reform, Says Bradley. ” KnowWPC. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. http://www. knowwpcarey. com/article. cfm? aid=786 . * “Medicare ; Medicaid. ” Medicare And Medicaid. William L. Manning. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.

http://www. netreach. net/~wmanning/mmov. htm . * Davis, Karen. “The Federal Employee Health Benefits Program: A Model for Workers, Not Medicare – The Commonwealth Fund. ” The Commonwealth Fund. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. http://www. commonwealthfund. org/Publications/Fund-Reports/2003/Nov/The-Federal-Employee-Health-Benefits-Program–A-Model-for-Workers–Not-Medicare. aspx . * “Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. ” U. S Office of Personnel Management. Web. 5 Apr. 2012. http://www. opm. gov/insure/health/ . * Americans for Cures Foundations http://www. americansforcures. org/article. php?

uid=1001/#Does%20the%20federal%20g vernment%20support%20stem%20cell%20research? * National Cancer Institutes. Cancer Research Funding. http://www. cancer. gov/cancertopics/factsheet/NCI/research-funding * Kates, Jennifer. “HIV/AIDS Policy Fact Sheet” U. S. Federal Funding for HIV/AIDS: The FY 2007 Budget Response. 26 February: 1-2. http://www. kff. org/hivaids/upload/7029-03. pdf * IDILOGIC. (2005). Blood Diseases and Resources Research. http://blood-diseases-and resources-research. idilogic. aidpage. com/blood-diseases-and-resources-research/ * Avert. Funding for the HIV and AIDS Epidemic. http://www. avert. org/aids-funding. htm

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