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How’s Business?: Health worries

It has been said that the more things change the more they remain the same. This saying is pertinent to a major issue that is talked about but continually put on the back burner — health coverage — and that will increasingly affect the people and businesses of Queens.

Let’s go back in time to 1992, when we had a very energetic presidential candidate named Bill Clinton, who subsequently won the election. The two major issues were jobs and health care. Sound familiar?

Clinton spent two terms in the White House with no improvements made to health care, and not much has changed. After nearly one full term of President George Bush, we still have not seen results.

There are 47 million Americans without health care. In this election year there are 10 aspiring Democrats seeking the nomination for president. In listening to the debates, I have heard next to nothing about health care.

But like an untreated sickness, the ill state of health care in this country will not cure itself. If not treated properly, it will lead to a full-blown disease and the eventual death of a system.

In this upcoming New York fiscal year that starts April 1, the Medicaid Bill is expected to increase costs by an approximate 8 percent. That will bring it in excess of an estimated $45 billion. And what are our bickering legislators doing about it? Their solution has always been to legislate stout, unpopular tax increases on homeowners and businesses. Is this why we elect these representatives?

If elected, you or I could do the same. Chronic tax increases will lead to businesses’ leaving Queens or just failing and homeowners’ moving out of state — to the point where there are not enough taxpayers to pick up the slack. The issues to be addressed include the allegation that Medicaid often pays more for hospital services than do private insurance companies and HMOs.

Why the ever-exorbitant and ever-increasing costs of pharmaceuticals? Why not the annual auditing of hospitals and nursing homes to insure frugal cost-control management?

For example, there are doctors who pay no more than hospital room courtesy visits to patients, who in turn are billed several hundred dollars. I cannot even begin to think of the savings right there.

So how’s business relative to health-care costs and coverage? It is a present-day vampire that will suck dry the blood of our businesses and people if the dilemma it presents is not soon solved.

Joe Palumbo is the fund manager for The Palco Group, Inc. and can be reached at www.palcogroup.com or 718-461-8317.

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