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Aging Baby Boomers: a Growing Concern for the U.S. Healthcare Field

Donald Trump’s win on November 8th was an unexpected and unwelcome turn of events to many in the United States.

Throughout the campaign, political analyst Lara Brown, who teaches in the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, expressed that a Trump win was something leftists and liberals should prepare for.

"Trump's candidacy is being fueled by those voters who possess a nostalgia for an earlier (albeit fictional time in our history and have been sorely disappointed by the performance of our last two presidents," she wrote earlier this year. She went on to say that "voters left behind by the American political system are hoping Trump will finally bring change."

It's this promise of change that has left many liberals and leftists concerned for numerous reasons. His plan for his first 100 days in office has been troubling to many, his stance toward women and minorities is less than ideal, and as Brown notes in another piece, "his lack of understanding of the government's basic functions is distressing."

While it's too early to tell which of Trump's campaign promises will come to fruition, his presidency will have a great impact on individuals for years to come. Among those who may be impacted the most by a Trump presidency are the elderly and disabled, who would be disserviced by Trump's proposed $6.2 trillion dollar tax cut.

According to Howard Gleckman, author of the book, Caring for Our Parents, funding these tax cuts will likely come at the expense of domestic programs including senior services. "Some of the programs that could be targeted [include]: Medicaid, important reforms in the way healthcare is delivered through Medicare, and services funded through the Older Americans Act such as Meals on Wheels, adult day, information assistance."

This is especially troubling, given that the senior population is on the verge of a rapid expansion.

In 2010, the first of the baby boomer generation began to enter retirement age, setting the course for a major demographic change in the United States--one that the healthcare industry can't keep up with.

Reports from the United Health Foundation indicate that 1 in 8 Americans are 65 or older. By the year 2050, however, baby boomers will make up 25 percent of the population. As it stands currently, 80 percent of seniors are currently living with at least one chronic health condition, most of which stem from diabetes and obesity.

As it stands currently, the healthcare industry has a shortage in nearly every field. According to studies by the [Association of American Medical Colleges](https://www.aamc.org/download/458082/data/2016complexitiesofsupplyanddemandprojections.pdf ""), there will not be enough new doctors to continue providing care for a rapidly aging population. Their reports indicate that in ten years, there will be a shortage of 61,700-94,7000 doctors in the United States alone. Additionally, the aging baby boomer population will also impact the nursing field, as well as add to an already strained laboratory science field.

"These updated projections confirm that the physician shortage is real, it's significant, and the nation must begin to train more doctors now if patients are going to be able to receive the care they need when they need it in the future," AAMC president and CEO Darrell Kirch stated.

The shortage, when combined with a rapidly expanding and less healthy senior population ought to be a primary concern for policy makers in years to come. Still, while the medical field may have ample opportunities for employment, experts who work in geriatrics maintain that it may be difficult to recruit workers interested in the field.

"Working in the field of gerontology is not sexy," writes Denise R. Scruggs, who directs the Beard Center on Aging at Lynchburg College. "We're seeing a disconnect among generations, and we see stereotypes that aging is not good, and that working with old people is boring."

For now, Trump and his administration have no concrete plans for addressing the medical workforce shortage that could potentially impact seniors and the disabled. He has, however, proposed plans which could negatively impact this vulnerable population, including repealing the ACA, reducing budgets which would impact affordable housing, and dementia research, and altering federal government funding for Medicare and Social Security.

While it's impossible to know what will happen until Trump takes office, based on the current state of the healthcare industry and promises made on the campaign trail, seniors and those dependent on federal government support for medical issues will need to prepare for a very different administration.

Posted by DanikaK at November 23, 2016 5:28 PM
Comments
Comment #410433

Frankly Dan, as a senior I fear Trump much less that Hillary. A nation bankrupt from charitable exuberance is of value to no one.

I will take freedom in poverty over sufficiency in tyranny.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 23, 2016 6:33 PM
Comment #410587

Danika,

Thank you for writing another excellent and well-researched article. Personally, I have no problem doing away with Medicare or Social Security, but I am sure many of Trump’s supporters disagree.

Posted by: Warren Porter at November 28, 2016 12:50 PM
Comment #410596

Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. It took FDR stacking the SC to interpret it to be constitutional in their eyes. The court found it to be unconstitutional before FDR stacked the deck.

The word “welfare” is not capitalized in the constitution. To provide for the general welfare doesn’t give the federal government the right to confiscate the property of the many to provide for the few. It was to provide a level playing field between all the states, not to provide for the individual person’s retirement.

Posted by: Weary Willie at November 28, 2016 3:59 PM
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