Soaring Spirit with Tears


Health Care

Medicine is a profession that is widely regarded as the place where innovation, invention, and discovery contribute to health, longevity, and quality of life. It is also a discipline where the ideas of one day are replaced by the ones of tomorrow with stunning speed and equally commensurate resistance. Wherever there is profit, there is a desire to sustain the demand for products that are lucrative, and this profit motivation often operates against pure science and the public interest. So, while it is easy to acknowledge the need for changes and/or reform, it is much more difficult to agree on exactly what would constitute an improvement in what currently exists. We would probably concur that the needs of the disenfranchised should be addressed, but when it comes to what kind of medicine should be offered to whom and under what circumstances, there is much less consensus. My own preference is for complete freedom of choice for the patient. In no way does this imply that the market would suddenly become a buyer beware scenario in which only the hugely well-informed could possibly make adequate decisions on their own behalf. Rather, the guiding principle is that one's body is one's own, and one may choose to manage its needs according to one's own judgment and philosophy.

Freedom of choice does not imply irresponsibility. Professional institutions and organizations train, test, and license—and when necessary censure or revoke licenses—of their own members. They also establish the curricula of their own colleges and universities and engage in the kinds of evaluations of efficacy not actually carried out by federal agencies. In short, it is the professional organizations, in each state, that are best able to determine the merits of a protocol and the ability of a practitioner to administer that protocol.

The problem with regulations is that they fossilize quickly. A technique or drug that was once regarded as useful comes into question; and it takes dozens, perhaps hundreds, of law suits before the authority to dispense a drug is canceled. The best case in point would be mercury amalgam fillings. For many years, it has been illegal to use such fillings in Sweden and Germany. In the U.S., we continue, in most States, to insist that a substance that everyone knows is toxic is somehow safe in mouths. We harass and jail dentists who remove mercury for anything other than cosmetic reasons. Then, finally one town, Duluth, bans the disposal of dental mercury into the sewer systems. Eventually, an Erin Brockowitz comes along and California dismantles its dental board, but the rest of the country is somnambulant.

My point is that individual professional groups are in the best position to determine what to do and what to use in the treatment of people who are ill. Granting prerogatives to multinational corporations to market drugs is not really a medically sound function. Patent offices can issue patents, but unless those giving marketing rights are performing 100% independent tests on real people with real health conditions and unless the assessments of response are absolutely impartial, the only real function of an approval is to rubber stamp papers whose merits have not been evaluated in a meaningful context.

In truth, patients actually know whether they are getting well or slipping, and no amount of law changes these facts. Therefore, I am for far wider freedom that we currently enjoy and far less federal regulation. I feel that states are fully capable of regulating what goes on within their own borders, and that the function of federal health institutions is to focus on public health issues such as epidemics, sanitation, and relief of suffering among the uninsured and poor.

Why Health Care Reform is Needed

Progress from the Dark Ages to the Age of Enlightment.

What we gained was improved hygiene, broadly based public health measures, and insurance—because, if the patient were not to blame for his illness, then someone ought to pick up the bill. What we lost was a sense of individual responsibility for maintaining one's own health as well as jurisdiction over our own bodies because the moment someone else can mandate health measures, one loses control over the most personal and intimate part of our incarnate existence.

What Sort of Health Coverage?

As a consequence of a system that is flawed, people are not getting meaningful health care, even if they are insured. The inhumanity of the coverage is that only methodologies that are approved are covered though a few enlightened companies are offering really unique insurance coverage. One company that approached me offered a policy that paid $50,000 the moment a person was diagnosed with cancer.

Patents and Intellectual Property

It is generally believed that herbal medicines or formulas cannot be patented. Therefore, there is little financial incentive to explore them and without this investigation, there is no basis for knowing whether or not these alternatives are in any way preferable to what is standard today. Moreover, while patents generally rely on the ability to identify a specific active agent, traditional systems of herbology rely on the synergy of many herbs to achieve the results they seek.

Tighter Controls on Complementary Medicine

The report recommends the creation of a central, co-ordinating office to oversee all activities relating to complementary and alternative medicine activities in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Reject More Regulations

Had 20th century medicine really been progressive, we would know as much about the immune system as about microorganisms, but since we can see microorganisms and only interpret the immune system through secondary observations, we don't really know what enables a person to fend off disease.

Cloning; Stem Cell Research; Genetic Engineering — Ethical and Spiritual Commentary

The ethical arguments center mainly on the normality—physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually—of the person created in this manner, the detractors saying that preliminary experiments with animals have not shown that the technology exists to create perfect examples of the species. Aside from this issue, there are few jarring ethical arguments.




Poulsbo, Washington