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Our new economy – the so-called “new normal” with fewer people working, consumers saying they have permanently changed spending and saving habits, and no stock market “bubble” in sight – will dramatically change the way leaders lead and businesses operate.

Some industries, like automotive, real estate, investment banking, and hedge fund investing have been hard hit.

Healthcare will be hammered because of its unique position in this new economy. Soaring federal budget deficits and spiraling healthcare costs have come together just as there are fewer workers to contribute to the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund that is projected to be bankrupt in eight short years. If there is an actuarial catastrophe waiting to happen, this is it.

Hospitals and physician group practices and their employees will bear the brunt of the cost-cutting frenzy that will undoubtedly occur if/when Congress fails to pass a reform bill that meets the President’s key criteria – the bill that does not add one cent to the national deficit. I appreciate the President’s realization that he also has a terrible problem with the federal deficit, but it is unlikely – highly unlikely — that any healthcare reform plan that accomplishes anything will be deficit neutral.

If you are in healthcare, you are feeling one of two things: despair or that it’s time for retirement, or a sense that this change will create exciting new business opportunities, especially for leaders who can embrace change and innovate.

As I have written before, this is not a fair deal for healthcare leaders – to be the ones to figure how to do more with much less when a bad bill is approved, or when the reform effort collapses as it did in the 1990s.

Speaking of what is or is not fair, the State of Fair of Texas just opened in Dallas. What better time for a diversion in Dallas where the Morning News just finished an investigative series that pointed out that our healthcare costs are among the highest in the state.

The State of Fair of Texas is one of the nation’s largest and certainly one of the most expensive. Last year my wife and I decided to make a visit, something we had not done in years. If the newspaper thinks that Dallas healthcare costs are high, they should try “fair” costs. With parking, admission and food, we spent more than $200 and did not even patronize any of midway rides or games of chance. We ate, we walked around, and we visited most of the free exhibits.

Every year, the State Fair features some new fried food. It is apparently their gimmick to attract people to visit the Fair, sort of like the extravagant His/Her gifts in the Neiman-Marcus catalog. One year it was fried Coca Cola or Dr. Pepper. I do not remember which. I do not want to remember. Over the years there have been other unusual (bizarre) fried offerings including Twinkies and Snickers. It seems that we cannot simply be satisfied with their other artery clogging fried food offerings: corned dogs, spiral potatoes or funnel cakes.

This year the big hit is fried butter. Yes, fried butter!

“No wonder the world hates us”, as David Letterman so aptly said when discussing this new fair food delicacy, and we wonder why our healthcare costs are spiraling if people willingly ingest food that is so patently bad for their health and wind up in need of a physician when their heart fails.

At least Congress is not going to ask hospital CEOs to eat the fried butter. With or without garlic and herbs.

John G. Self is Chairman and Senior Client Advisor of JohnMarch Partners. He is a Co-Founder of the Firm.

A former investigative reporter and crime writer with more than 30-years of healthcare leadership experience in public relations, national marketing, business development and as Chief Executive Officer of hospitals and consulting firms, Mr. Self is highly regarded for his keen insight into operations, business culture and for his ability to consistently select the right leaders.

You can contact Mr. Self at 214.220.1234 or JGSelf@johnmarch.com. He is an active member of Linked In and a frequent editorial contributor.

Or, you can follow him on Twitter at Self_JohnMarch.

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