Cannon answers questions on federal budget and medicine

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    By Bret Clark

    Congressman Chris Cannon heard and expressed views on many issues, including restructuring Social Security and keeping the price of prescription drugs low, in a question and answer session Tuesday, the Fourth of July.

    Cannon discussed in detail his feelings about the future of Social Security and the federal budget surplus that could be nearly 4 trillion dollars.

    Cannon projected that in the next eight years the federal government could use the budget surplus to pay off all of its public debt.

    He said this would cause a huge reduction in interest rates, promoting economic development.

    Dan Stolberg, a Provo city resident, voiced concerns that the money would be better used in saving the Social Security system.

    “The (Social Security) numbers don’t really work anymore because of changing demographics,” Stolberg said.

    He said at its inception, Congress planned that only 1 percent of the population would ever use Social Security.

    Now, because of longer life spans and fewer children, the percentage has increased considerably, Stolberg said.

    The current Social Security system will not be able to handle the drain for much longer, he said.

    Cannon said he believed answers will be found as the economy continues to grow.

    His major concern with the Social Security system is people are not guaranteed any money.

    “I would like a system that at least gives people as much control (over their own money input) as possible,” Cannon said.

    Currently people that pay Social Security pay for current users instead of into an account that they will be able to use in the future.

    When asked what he planned to do about high prescription drug prices Cannon said he supported a total revamping of the Medicaid program.

    Cannon said when Congress first set up the Medicaid system, the medical profession in general focused on surgery.

    In the past ten years doctors and patients have begun to rely more heavily on drugs than surgery and the Medicaid system has had troubles conforming to the new trends, Cannon said.

    “I would like to institute a system that is driven by the market,” he said.

    He said this type of system would better meet both the needs of the government and the people.

    “Cannon is making (drug prices) worse to make stock holders happy,” said Grant Richards, one of Cannon’s constituents.

    He said drugs can be gotten cheaper in Mexico and Canada and Cannon should help facilitate lower prices in the United States.

    Cannon explained that most prescription drug development is done in the United States and this development causes the high prices.

    Any regulation of drug prices could lead to less development and stifle medical advancement, Cannon said.

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