Medical Reform: People Before Profits

Medicine for a profit is a violation of the Hippocratic oath.  It is now estimated that over 45,000 American die each year from a lack of heath care.   Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 360,000 Americans have died from lack of health care coverage.  

Who are the terrorists?

There is perhaps no better place to see the effect that lobbyist have on policy debates than in our current health care debate.  The founding Fathers believed strongly in an individual’s right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Without Good Health an American is without life, liberty or the ability to pursue happiness.Despite spending more on health care than any other country in the world, the United States rank 37th in the world in health care.  How can a country that leads the world in medical innovation and research have the poorest health care system in the Developed World?  As with many of our other current problems, the answer is Greed and addiction to money.  

The American public played a primary role in funding the research that helped create many of the great medical advances we have seen over the last 50 years.  As business men and corporation realized that there was the potential for huge profits in medical care, Corporation slowly began to move in and take power away from Doctors and medical professionals.  As we watch the debates on TV, we can see that the situation has become one now where Congress is asking “What is good for Corporate Interests, before What is best for the health of the average American citizen.

It is absolutely clear in examine our whole economic crisis that the Hippocratic Oath is not taught in American Business Schools.  MBA are taught to operate their medical facilities with no regard for people only profits.  As MBAs took over the management of medical care, doctors were pushed farer and farer to the periphery in the management of the health care system.  This needs to change if we are going to reform the health care system in the United States.I must admit that I have not read the entire proposal now being reviewed by Congress, but if history serves us right, and I am sure that it will, the bill should more likely be called the Insurance Company Protection Act much like the Medicare Drug bill became the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Protection Act.  

Long complicated bills in Congress are almost always filled with loopholes and protections crafted by Corporate lobbyists.A key factor in restoring the economic health of the United States is health care reform.  Health Care costs for a typical American worker with a family to provide for is 5 times more than the wages a worker from a 3rd world country receives in an entire year.  If we want to be competitive, we need to substantial reduce medical costs!  

How?  My program seeks to lower health care cost by 50% within 10 years.  All Doctors spend at least 6 years training for their professions.  MBA spend 2.  Medical Insurance, Hospital and management personnel should have there wages limited to the average wage for a Physician in the area they are operating within.  Why would you pay a paper pusher more than the person who is actually practising the art of healing?Require businesses with 20 or more employees to pay for all health insurance costs for their employees.  Set up a “public option for companies with less than 20 employees so that all working Americans have health care coverage.  Furthermore, require companies to offer the same policy to all employees from management down to janitorial staff.  The public option is best managed by non-profit corporation on a state and regional level with maximum impute from the medical profession on how to enact a policy that provides the most comprehensive coverage for the average American citizen.

The Health Care bill passed in Massachusetts by the legislature is a perfect example of the “Medical Mafia”, Profits before Patients, hard at work.  Companies are required to offer coverage to their employees, but they can opt out for a mere $395/employee, less than 4% of what a good health care policy costs for the average Massachusetts family.Approximately half of all personnel bankruptcies in the United States are caused by medical costs that are not covered by insurance companies.  Business executives will think twice about offering inadequate Insurance policies if they are required by law to have the same policies for their own families that they offer to the individuals who do the real work in a Corporation.

Pharmaceutical Industry RegulationAmericans pay more for their prescription medicines than anyone in the world.  Taxpayers played for the training of scientists, and funded the research that allowed the American Pharmaceutical Industry to become the dominate world leader that it is today.  Not unlike what happened in the field of medicine, MBA realized their were huge profits to be made in the distribution of drugs.  Scientists not unlike Doctors were slowly pushed out of the management positions of company and MBA’s took over.  Once again with the same result:  Profits Over Patients!The scientists who developed the drugs train for 5 years on average as compared to an MBA’s 2 years.  Executives in the pharmaceutical industry should receive no more in pay than the average scientist is being paid to do the real work.

Ban television advertising of prescription drugs.In 1983 when Congress decided to remove the ban on the advertising of prescription drugs, they made a monumental mistake.  Pharmaceutical companies now spend twice as much money on advertising as they do on research.  The advertising of pharmaceutical drugs directly to the public has led to more expensive medical care costs for several reasons.Higher costs for drugsAmericans being conditioned to believe that drugs are the key ingredient for good health, and a solution to any medical problems they might have.Advertising is some case is designed to create anxiety in the people who watch it.   Creating the sense without this new wonderful miracle drug death in potentially imminent.A good example of this are all the commercials for bladder control! The sale of newer more expensive drugs when generic drug at less than 10% of the cost are potentially just as effective.

The most important point here once again is that Doctors have the knowledge and training to make decisions about medical care.  Mis-information throguh advertising has caused Americans to lose sight of what “Good Health is”.This constant exposure to drug commercials is also very bad for children who are just starting to develop a sense of how to maintain good health.  The introduction of TV advertising also contributed to the growing use of pharmaceutical drugs for disease that they were never adequately tested for.  The typical American consumer does not have enough training to distinguish between real medical science and pseudo-science when they learn about medicines through TV advertising.  The United States needs a distinguished group of Doctors to review the literature and explain to the public which drugs are most cost effective, and which diseases are better treated through non-pharmaceutical needs.  As I have repeated emphasized re-empowering the Doctors is an important step in taking control of our health care crisis.Banning television advertisements of pharmaceutical drugs in an important first step in the right direction.

Rewrite the Medicare Drug Act:  The Medicare drug act which was passed in 2003 with the support of both Republicans and Democrats has provided much needed access to pharmaceutical drugs for senior citizens.  It was an important step in providing quality care for the elderly.   The bill unfortunately was largely crafted to provide large profits to pharmaceutical companies.3 simple steps can be taken to greatly reduce the over-all cost of this program, and increase its effectiveness at the same time.  The pharmaceutical drugs for this program should be purchased in bulk at greatly reduced rates!  Americans should not pay higher prices for drugs than Canadians.  Taxpayers built the foundation for the development of these drugs, and should benefit accordingly.  Potential Savings-After careful review when possible Generic drugs should be used for this programs whenever it is possible.Finally, there needs to be patent reform.  Recently, pharmaceutical companies have been given patents for only slight changes in the structure of a drug.  Prilosec and Nexius are the most expensive example of this development.  In essence big pharma has been allowed to the Japanese manufacturing strategy of designed obsolesce there by extending patents and substantial increasing overall costs for consumers.

Preventive MedicinePresident Obama is correct in stating that health care reform is a key component of our economic recovery.  The best way to treat to fight disease is to prevent it in the first place.  To date in the United States, preventive medicine focuses on technological innovations like mammography, colonoscopy, angioplasty, MRI and CAT Scans.  Due to the high cost of having new medical procedures approved, most of these preventive techniques and technologies come with very large prices tags for consumers.Since the publication of his landmark book in 1975, The Relaxation Response,  Dr. Herbert Benson, Director of the Mind Body Institute at Beth Israel-Deaconess Hospital has led a revolution in the field of preventive medicine.  Dr. Benson and his associates have repeatedly shown that palliative care- nutrition, exercise and meditation can treat and prevent disease saving potentially thousands of dollars in health care costs.Dr. Benson contents that for individuals to obtain and maintain optimal health they need a health care system with 3 basic components- Primary Care, Pharmaceutical Medicines, and Prevention.  Individual health care can be thoughts of as a three legged stool supported by these 3 basic medical systems.  Our current system is in a state of collapse because it is only standing on 2 legs as preventive care- nutrition, exercise and meditation have been ignored largely because they provide little of no profit for the “Medical Mafia” who believe, as I have previously stated in, “Profits before Patients”.

The American Preventive Medicine ActThe goal of this program is to design a national preventive medicine program based on nutrition, exercise and meditation.  The impletation of this program would be through Regional Directors and finally state control.  Each program will be closely monitored to learn which programs are most effective at reducing health care costs.At night our school building frequently sit empty with the lights out.  We can use our current infrastructure and institute this program at each individual school, giving low cost access to this program to all Americans regardless of their income level.Some of the potential components of this program, the potential heath care costs saving are provide here.

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