Saturday, July 23, 2011

Examining the Demographic Bulge and the Dynamics of Capitalism: Why the Pundits are too Gloomy

It’s pretty depressing reading the newspapers these days.  I speak metaphorically when I say “reading the newspapers”.  Clearly online reading is replacing traditional print media at an exponential rate.  But more on that later.  According to the experts, we are heading to Hell in a Handbasket because of unfunded entitlement programs, a demographic bulge and anemic growth.   Add to that runaway inflation caused by an historic increase in money supply (see hilarious and cynical video on The Quantitative Easing).  Admittedly the Great Recession and chronic budget deficits have left us with a full plate of challenges.  But it’s not as bad as the prophets of doom have made it out to be.  Here’s why.

The Demographic Bulge
The first Baby Boomers qualified for Medicare and Social Security this year.  The Baby Boom covers those born from 1946 – 1964.  Roughly speaking, the Boom lasted from the end of WWII to the launch of The Pill.  Nothing is certain but death and taxes.  And that applies to the Baby Boomers as well.  They will pay their taxes.  And more importantly they will die.  The first batch will be mostly gone in twenty years.  The younger Boomers (present company included) will be pretty much gone in forty.  So is entitlement reform necessary?  Definitely.  That said, this crisis will eventually solve itself (Learn more, click here:  Equilibrium Theory).  Dead people don’t receive Medicare benefits or Social Security checks.

Dynamics of Capitalism
Meanwhile growth will return to this economy.  Despite the frequent predictions of our imminent demise, this nation enjoys an embarrassment of riches including a highly skilled and educated workforce, abundant natural resources, meritocracy, democracy and the rule of law. Some aging Boomers, inept politicians and greedy bankers can’t ruin all of that.   And innovation is being deployed at a breathtaking pace.   Did anyone outside of Silicon Valley even know what a Tablet was five years ago?   Or Social Media?  Or Cloud Computing?  Innovation causes major economic disruptions in the short run.  These are the structural economic challenges that the pessimistic pundits talk about gloomily.   They often fail to mention that in the long run these disruptive innovations instill economic efficiencies and capital growth that we never dreamed off.  Here’s just one example.   In the next fifty years a new energy industry will emerge to replace fossil fuels.  This will create millions of jobs, solve the trade in balance and eliminate our need to fight expensive foreign wars.  Here’s another one that’s already happening big time.  The way we read and learn is rapidly changing and reinventing the media, publishing and education industries.   We can now read a news story and view a video of the incident simultaneously.  And then check all the references and related articles from multiple media sources with the click of a mouse or a touch screen.   But this goes way beyond crushing the big city dailies, putting Borders out of business or making college degrees more affordable.  Information and the knowledge and wisdom derived from it will become universal (provided we have an Internet connection).  How’s that for a game changer?

The Way Forward
We’ve seen this movie before.  The Great Depression and WWII in the 30’s and 40’s.  Vietnam, race riots, Watergate and Stagflation in the 60’s and 70’s.  A double-dip recession, huge budget deficits and the Cold War in the 80’s.  We emerged stronger.   This current crisis will have a similar outcome.  But it won’t be easy.  The young Boomers will take the biggest hit. Traditional retirement will not be an option for most as cuts in entitlement programs will have to be offset by hard work late in life.   A sensible immigration policy that compensates for the reduction in American birthrates can bring in younger workers to expand the tax base.  Speaking of taxes, we need coherent tax reform so all workers have some skin in the game.  Something sensible will have to emerge with regard to healthcare policy.  Hats off to the Dems for doing something but HCR is not the answer.   And finally we need a national energy policy to accelerate the departure from fossil fuels.

This time is not different.  This time is like any other era in American history.   For those willing to work hard, hustle and innovate the future is quite bright.   Comment on this Story

Sunday, July 17, 2011

READER RESPONSE July, 2011

click headline to view post in its entirety
In the past week, Florida lawmakers turned down a $2.1 million federal grant that would pave the way for the state to receive $35 million in federal funding that would move elderly and disabled patients from nursing homes to their own homes during the next five years. With the help of this federal funding elderly people could be moved out of nursing homes to independent-living facilities or to support care at home with their families resulting in less money to be spent on nursing-home care. Republican legislators defended their refusal of the latest federal grant, known as the Money Follows the Person funding...Is there any hope that rational thought will prevail in Tallahassee? -Bernd Wollschlaeger, MD

RE:  Medicare Reform 

According to a CNNMoney.com article posted on July 8... "Democrats have spent a lot of time lambasting Republicans for supporting a Medicare reform plan from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. They excoriate it as 'destroying Medicare as we know it.'"  When will the Progressives realize that Medicare as we know it is unsustainable and must be destroyed?  Over utilized and plagued with fraud, the Medicare Program's time has come and that's a good thing for young and old, for conservatives and liberals!  -Healthcare Professional, Ft. Lauderdale 

Re:  Doctor Accountability vs. Patient Justice

Medical liability reforms such as HB-479 are bad for everyone except those hospitals and doctors who make mistakes that hurt patients.
Is it fair to limit the recovery of a patient who is the victim of a wrong leg surgery...by a doctor who had performed ANOTHER wrong leg surgery just a year before?
I represented a client in just that situation.
Some claim that the new legislation promotes a friendlier place to practice medicine.
Is "friendly" really what the citizens of Florida deserve or need?
How about safe and accountable?
What do you think?
 -John Leighton, Leighton Law  | www.LeightonLaw.com

Re: Understanding HB 155:  Is this a Joke?
It's not a joke and FAFP has joined in a lawsuit with other medical physician organizations to try and declare the law unconstitutional. These are nasty times.
 -Tad Fisher, Executive VP, Florida Academy of Family Physicians

New Jersey license has a statement on their license renewal to waive your  rights.
 -New Jersey Physician

Re:  Unfunded Entitlements

The Greek debacle is a cautionary tale.  We must face down the budget crisis now to avoid the chaos recently seen in Athens.  Greece has become a nation of corrupt and entrenched bureaucrats, idle rich and a disillusioned workforce that has largely forgotten how to hustle and innovate.  If our leaders don't lead, the US is headed down that same path.  The nation that perfected democracy has to avoid the Hell being endured in the country that invented it.  -Healthcare Executive, Miami

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Florida's Healthcare Workers Command High Wages Despite Declining Reimbursements, Sagging Economy

By Jeff Herschler

According to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Florida's healthcare workers are outperforming many of their peers in other industries.  And this feat is achieved despite reimbursement reductions and a weak economy.

For example, physicians and surgeons boast a mean yearly wage of $107,540 for entry level and $235,710 for experienced practitioners.   Pediatricians don't do badly either, earning $89,550 to $200,970.  Meanwhile Registered Nurses are making $46,400 to $71,380.  Pharmacists gross $88,450 to $117,150 while an OBGYN's mean annual wage is $225,620. A typical Radiation Therapist's yearly salary is $55,720 to $89,040.  One hot emerging category is Physician Assistant. They earn $64,150 to $100,960.   Surprising many is the fact that Podiatrists gross $73,770 to $171,400.

Healthcare workers' outperformance is apparent at the national level as well.  According to BizJournals.com (citing On Numbers analysis of federal compensation data for 801 occupations), the eight highest paying jobs in America are in the healthcare field.  See article:  Highest Paying Jobs in America. 

Not all healthcare jobs are high paying however. The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation reports that Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics earn $23,010 to $36,950 while a Home Health Aid's annual salary comes in just a bit above the minimum wage at $18,090 to $26,940.

Sun-Sentinel.com has published a photo gallery illustrating several healthcare vocations and their average incomes.  Click here to view the photo gallery. 
Mr. Herschler is the Editor and Publisher of FHIweekly and FloridaHealthIndustry.com.