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The hawks in charge of health care reform? Say it ain’t so. Okay, it ain’t so … yet. But in this month’s Health Affairs, Leonard Schaeffer warns that if we don’t act soon–the “we” in this case being the U.S. medical-industrial complex–the national security guys and budget minders will be the ones rakishly calling the shots on our healthcare future. Why, they wouldn’t dare! Well, actually they would, because in case you haven’t noticed, healthcare spending is turning into the new global warming. (more after the jump)

Despite decades of hand-wringing, the healthcare community hasn’t found the political clout, the political will, or even the collective desire to wrestle the costs into control (Schaeffer, as chairman of Surgical Care Affiliates, one of the nation’s largest surgical care companies, is part of that crowd.) In the meantime, a quicksand of greedy special interests, spineless pols, and, let’s admit it, our own sense of entitlement has left America with some of the planet’s highest per-capita health spending–$6,102 a person in 2004 versus an average of $2,552 for member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. What has this money bought? Not much. Schaeffer cites our “disturbing” international rankings on the accepted measures of healthcare performance.

As the author notes, alarm bells are now sounding in D.C. Indeed, in this month’s New England Journal of Medicine, Congressional Budget Office boss Peter Orszag warns that we’re breaking the bank, a message he’s already put directly to Congress. On our current path, Orszag stresses, Medicare and Medicaid spending alone will suck up the equivalent of our current federal budget by 2050–that’s 20 percent of GDP, for all you policy wonks.

That’ll never happen, of course. But the healthcare industry’s window for self-reform is closing fast, Schaeffer writes. Washington will soon start talking about healthcare in the language of national security, as in: Sorry pal, we just can’t maintain our nuclear subs, fight the terrorists and pay for your liver surgery.

In a nutshell, he’d much rather the health lobby be in charge than the defense lobby. No surprise, given his job title. Then again, some of the patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center would no doubt agree with him.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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