Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Response to "Call To Action" by Sen Baucus

By Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)

As a dietitian I am concerned that one crucial element is missing in all the discussion about reforming our health care system. The Baucus Call to Action calls for "a "RightChoices" card that guarantees access to recommended preventive care, including services like a health risk assessment, physical exam, immunizations, and age and gender appropriate cancer screenings recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force." Unfortunately this type of 'preventive' care is a path into the pharmaceutical-based care that medical doctors are trained in, which is the path we are presently on - more obesity and chronic disease treated with drugs, not the lifestyle changes that are needed. Medical doctors are not taught how excellent nutrition with careful supplementation and detoxification can heal the ailing body and prevent more serious problems, unless they go out of their way to get special training later in their career when they realize the problems that relying on drugs causes. In fact medical doctors, and even conventional dietitians, are taught to consider many effective nutritional therapies as "food fallacies," and doctors who use nutritional therapies (sometime called Complementary and Alternative Medicine or CAM) are attacked by their medical boards, and some even have their licenses removed because they did not follow 'accepted protocols,' in spite of the healing and vibrant health they have brought to their patients.

An example is John Dommisse, M.D. , who had his license revoked by the Arizona medical board, in spite of his accomplishments. The medical board acted outrageously to squash a doctor using innovative nutritional approaches, as his efforts to appeal have been rejected on trivial grounds. As he says on his website "nutritional medicine is much more successful and effective in chronic diseases than standard/conventional medicine is."

Something similar is happening in the state of Washington, as related by Dr. Jonathan Wright, M.D. in his newsletter, quoting: "Unfortunately, holistic physicians in Washington state are under political attack by the Medical Quality Assurance Commission (MQAC). Several physicians are being persecuted by MQAC because they offer their patients holistic healthcare. These doctors are being dragged through hearings and are under investigation because the MQAC believe that these doctors should have their medical licenses revoked for not practicing "traditional" mainstream [drug-based] medicine." (Please understand that drugs are crutches that cover up symptoms, but rarely correct the underlying cause, and often cause side effects that lead to the use of another drug, and another, and another.)

These are the very doctors who will bring down the cost of health care by leading their patients toward healthier lives at relatively modest cost! We must break the monopoly that pharmaceutical therapeutics has on our medical care system. CAM must become a standard of care taught in our medical schools, and supported by the medical establishment. CAM practitioners, including naturopaths and well trained nutritionists must be recognized as effective sources of guidance for patients seeking holistic health care. When insurance companies see the dollars saved by these alternative therapies, they will begin to insist that all doctors become skilled in the use of these therapies. They might even push for reform of our food system, as noted by Michael Pollan in a recent New York Times opinion piece, called Big Food vs Big Insurance

I see nothing in the current health care reform proposals that would give an incentive to citizens to lead a healthier lifestyle, for example, by avoiding the processed foods that are so detrimental to health but fill our grocery store shelves. If every visit to the doctor is covered by insurance, where is the incentive to lead a healthy life so visits to the doctor are rarely needed, since it is easier to take a pill than to reform kitchen activities? Health Savings Accounts, accompanied by catastrophic health insurance, should be an option for those who want to pursue alternative paths to good health, allowing us to spend our health care dollars on herbs and supplements (and real food) rather than drugs and surgery, and who, as a result, rarely get sick.

Reforming our health care system is a monstrous job, considering all the vested interests involved, who stand to lose money if we have true reform. We spend an enormous amount of money on health care now, with mediocre results. I pray that Congress will understand what is needed for true reform, resist the blandishments of the vested interests, and enact reforms that cuts costs not only by cutting waste and fraud, but also by enabling true health and effective healing through holistic health care.

Carolyn 'Kris' Johnson
Williston, Ohio

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