Answer from Hagelin

The Natural Law Party is the only party with a realistic, responsible plan to eliminate the national debt without cutting important social programs and services. We can do this through effective, cost-effective, proven solutions to national problems of crime, spiraling health care costs, etc.--solutions that will save the nation hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Here are two examples:

(a) Preventive health care strategies can cut health care costs by 50%.

The U.S. medical system is really a "disease-care" system--it focuses on the management of illnesses, rather than on the prevention of disease and the promotion of health. But the vast majority of our national health is influenced by factors over which this disease-based approach has little control--such as nutrition, stress, societal problems, and environmental toxins. Consequently, in the absence of effective prevention, our present disease-care system can never create a truly healthy society.

Recent research shows that 50% of deaths and 70% of disease in America are self-inflicted--caused by an epidemic of unhealthy habits, including improper diet, inadequate exercise, smoking, and alcohol abuse. Thus, the vast majority of disease is preventable.

Incredibly, Republicans and Democrats consistently ignore proven prevention-oriented approaches to health--largely because the lobbying influence of over 1000 medical PACs (political action committees) has shaped legislation and preserved the status quo. Medicare specifically bans funding for such preventive services. Following the federal example, most private health insurance companies also refuse to cover prevention. No health care reform bills debated in Congress have focused on improving health; they have dealt only with problems in disease-care financing and delivery, hoping to save money by streamlining and downsizing the system.

By focusing on the prevention of disease and the promotion of health, the Natural Law Party offers a solution to the health care crisis that is comprehensive, cost-effective, and scientifically proven. Our health care platform has two aspects.

1. We support health strategies that focus on prevention and strengthen the general health of the nation, thereby shifting our national focus from disease care to health care. These programs include prevention-oriented health education, incorporating the most up-to-date knowledge of nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and other strategies to modify unhealthy behaviors, and prevention-oriented natural medicines, such as natural herbal preparations, natural dietary supplements, and alternative medical treatment modalities. These preventive strategies have been shown by extensive research to create healthier citizens and to cut health care costs by 50% to 70%.

2. We support the introduction of financial incentives that will help prevent abuse of the health care system and ensure high-quality care. These incentives include (a) vouchers enabling Medicare and Medicaid subscribers to choose any insurance plan or health care provider they desire, thereby promoting competitive costs and quality of care among medical providers; and (b) medical savings accounts for Medicare and Medicaid subscribers, which will provide financial rewards for good health. Such financial incentives will reduce demands for unnecessary care and prevent overuse of the health care system by giving greater financial control and responsibility to individual subscribers.

Through our two-pronged approach of preventive health care and financial incentives, we can rescue Medicare and Medicaid from bankruptcy, save the nation approximately $500 billion a year in health care costs, and prevent untold pain and suffering.

(b) Effective crime prevention and rehabilitation can cut costs by 40%. Crime costs Americans $450 billion annually. Despite two decades of "get tough" policies--with longer, often mandatory prison sentences--the rate of violent crime in America has risen almost 30% in the last ten years. Of gravest concern, juvenile violent crime has spiraled during the past decade--especially urban gang and school violence using guns.

During the past two decades, medical science has documented the alarming rise of stress-related illness such as hypertension, stroke, and heart disease. This same build-up of stress is responsible for a similar rise in social illnesses--crime, drug abuse, domestic violence, and family disintegration. The Natural Law Party offers systematic, scientifically proven programs to reduce stress in the individual and throughout society--thus eliminating the root cause of crime. These programs offer an innovative, highly cost-effective strategy to reduce crime costs by attacking the basis of the problem.

One cost-effective prevention strategy is to target those individuals who are at highest risk for crime--the current prison inmate population, 90% of whom will be released from prison. A five-year Harvard study investigating the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique in a maximum security prison found that inmates who learned the practice decreased significantly in stress, aggression, and mental disorders. Violence throughout the prison decreased, and the rate of return to prison among participating inmates was 30-35% less than for four other treatment groups. Similar studies in 28 other maximum security prisons have shown equally impressive results.

In New York City, a new initiative called computer-assisted community policing has been credited with reducing crime by 40% during the last two years. In this approach, police are assigned to high-crime neighborhoods identified by computer tracking, work closely with these neighborhoods, and are rewarded for preventing crime. According to statistics from the New York Police Department, murder in New York City dropped 31% during the first half of 1995 compared to the first six months of 1994, with similar reductions in other categories of violent crime. This striking improvement led one journalist to refer to New York as "the suddenly safer city."

(c) The savings from such prevention-oriented programs will enable us to pay off the national debt in the best possible way--by making people healthier, happier, and safer. Only the Natural Law Party offers such an approach--one that improves this generation and safeguards the next.