As CEO of a healthcare company that focuses on the medication needs of patients with complex and chronic conditions, I pay close attention to what people in government say and do regarding healthcare. As a Tennessee senator, this has become even more relevant.
Former NYC Mayor and current presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is taking heat for suggesting that it’s reasonable to deny treatment to older Americans as a cost-cutting measure for a health system in crisis. Media outlets including Forbes, reported that in 2011, Bloomberg was recorded saying that society’s unwillingness to make hard choices when it comes to caring for older Americans is “going to bankrupt us.”1
This is a rather harsh perspective from a nearly 80-year-old billionaire, considering that his own health care needs will never be rationed.
Ageism is nothing new. Dr. Robert N. Butler coined the term in 1969 and spent his career exposing and fighting this “systematic stereotyping and discrimination against people because they are old.” Given that the American population is growing older, healthcare is not a place we’d expect to see ageism. Sadly, however, there are many examples, ranging from educators who discourage medical students from specializing in geriatric medicine, to dismissive treatment of elderly patients by caregivers.
We’re thankful to live and work in a state led by a governor who is dedicated to upholding the sanctity and dignity of all life. This is in line with my personal and professional beliefs.
When politicians exaggerate the fiscal burden of caring for the elderly, they overlook such critical and expensive health problems such as obesity. In 2015-16, a National Center for Health Statistics survey showed that nearly 40% of American adults are obese – a condition known lead to coronary disease and stroke. The Centers for Disease Control states that coronary heart disease and stroke cost the U.S. health care system $199 billion per year and cause $131 billion in lost productivity on the job. Any proposal to save money on health care must look at the fiscal, personal and societal consequences of issues facing young and middle age.
Respecting senior Americans is the right thing to do; it is part of our Southern culture and who we are as Tennesseans. Senior citizens have earned the right to excellent healthcare designed to support their needs. Our current healthcare environment exacerbates costs by applying a “one size fits all” strategy to patients—treating a 75-year-old with Parkinson’s the same as a healthy 30-year-old, creating unnecessary compliance problems that can result in hospital admissions and readmissions.
TwelveStone supports the comprehensive medication needs of people – many of them Michael Bloomberg’s age and older – who are living with tough to manage chronic conditions. We do not regard them as a burden, and we certainly don’t agree with writing them off as an expense the nation can’t afford.
Instead, we’ve designed care around patients that we cherish, ensuring that they live independently and successfully for as long as possible. As a patient recently shared; “These are the sweetest people and so easy to deal with. I feel that they are a part of my family. When I call or they call me they are so upbeat, and I feel they are happy to talk with me and take care of me.”
A bit of care and kindness in the current political environment goes a long way.
 Butler, R. N. 1969. “Age-ism: Another Form of Bigotry.” The Gerontologist 9(4, Part 1): 243–6.
 Not for Doctors Only: Ageism in Healthcare
by Karin M. Ouchida and Mark S. Lachs, ASA Blog accessed Feb 19, 2020
 Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) accessed Feb 19, 2020