Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Health Care Reform, In Any Form, Will Not Fix the Problem

Utah Senator Bennet came to speak to the Utah Medical Association when doctor delegates like me met in bucolic Midway, a little town outside Park City in September 2009. Before he started his address, delegates were given a chance to voice their opinions about health care reform. Fortune had it I was the last doc to take the open microphone.

I cited evidence published in leading medical journals (see “Newsletter”) that we could literally cure 80% of chronic diseases and prevent 66% of cancers with dietary changes alone. This would translate into substantial savings that would redefine the health care problems we have and make 100% universal coverage affordable, simple and much more rewarding for all involved. Instead, we continue to argue about how to best finance a broken system that seeks to continue financing expensive, inefficient practices that focus on treating symptoms, not the root of diseases. Said system is exactly what Big Pharma and Insurance companies prefer, since it keeps them in business.

A smattering of applause followed my remarks.

Then, Senator Bennet took the stage.

I liked him immediately. He struck me as a wise old man with a great sense of humor who is able to see the good in his opponents’ proposals and ideas. In fact, he has gotten in trouble with Utah’s far right Republicans who do not like his bill offering universal coverage, even though it does not have the Right’s dreaded Public Option Plan.

His partner in crime, co-sponsor Democratic Senator Wyden from Oregon is himself in trouble in his state because Democrats there would like to see the Public Option Plan take effect. Both Senators have recruited an equal number of Senators on both sides of the aisle to support their health care proposal. And most telling, Senator Bennett has upset many Republicans for supporting President Obama on several issues.

Senator Bennet is a centrist moderate, exactly what we need for our country to stop bickering along extremist party ideologies.

This is one of the reasons why I was very pleased to hear him say toward his concluding remarks, that whatever we do in health care reform will likely not work, (paraphrasing), “because we have a dysfunctional system that focuses on treating symptoms, instead of addressing the factors that lead to disease: we are trying to reform a ‘Disease-Care System.’”

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