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The Biggest Loser in the Nation’s Capital

By Dr. Zaneb Beams

Consider the conversation I had last week:

Parent: My son is getting bigger and bigger. We do everything right. I just don’t understand.

Me: What does he eat?

Parent: He eats really healthy…all organic.  Hey, we went out for wings last night, have you been to that new place?

Me: Ya know, controlling weight is a simple equation, calories in vs. calories out. You might be surprised where those calories come from.

Ten years ago, I declared “I didn’t go into medicine to tell people what to eat.” I thought super specialized neonatal cardiac surgeries were the sexiest thing on the schedule. A decade later, I’m learning that a simple combination of better nutrition, cleaner environment, and safer public spaces will make us a healthier society.  Of these, nutrition is the most prominent issue in my practice. It’s a simple equation: calories in vs. calories out.

So…where’s the connection between Health Care Reform, The Biggest Loser, and the National Budget? There’s a simple equation for “macroeconomic weight loss”, revenue in vs. revenue out.

Yesterday I played, “You fix the budget”.  With my “Intro to Econ” education, I balanced our budget without creating new taxes or cutting healthcare.

It’s true.

I reduced payments to military contractors, brought our soldiers home from Iraq, postponed or reduced sci-fi space war programs, returned to 1990’s level tax rates, and controlled health care spending with research based, patient centered solutions.

What’s more important is what I did not do: I did not reduce or delay Social Security or Medicare benefits. I did not “enact Tort Reform.” I did not reduce state Medicaid funding.

 When it comes to weight-loss, you don’t need to run marathons, or get your stomach stapled. Just cut calories. I tell families, “Focus on big ticket items- Fast food, soda…” When cutting the budget, legislators should do the same. Health care is a big ticket item in our national budget.  Reform cuts cost over the next 4 years, preventing health care from eventually growing to 50% of our budget.  Less revenue out means a healthier economy.

Weight loss requires tough lifestyle changes and so will balancing our national budget. If we repeal or weaken the PPACA  now, the biggest losers will be the children I care for. By revamping the way we pay doctors, encouraging preventive care and avoiding expensive catastrophic treatments, and enacting other cost controls, PPACA is the single best way to make sure less revenue is going out, than we have coming in.

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