THE BLOG

Political Health Endgame: You Deserve Better Solutions

11/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Post-war Britain, and Londoners in particular, had suffered mightily after two years of punishing aerial bombardment. The East End of London had been reduced to rubble.

Winston Churchill, arguably the greatest leader and politician of the 20th century, was turned out of office. A new day dawned. Anuerin Nye Bevin, a "firebrand" Socialist, was determined to remake the British health care system. On July 5, 1948 he became the first Minister of Health. Out of his uncompromising efforts was born the National Health System. Bevin became known as the father of the NHS. The pride and joy of Britain today. Out of crisis comes opportunity. And so it is today. With crisis, opportunity comes a-knocking.

But there is nothing new or immediate about the current "health care crisis." The general level of perception of this crisis has not changed appreciably since 1991. Dire warnings of the impending fiscal insolvency of Medicare have gone unheeded and unsolved.

2009-09-28-healthcarecrisis.jpg

The current national "debate" with its political maneuverings and deal-makings is all about big-money. It is about health care insurers jockeying for position. And Big Pharma is not far behind. In fact, big Pharma is already flush with profits from last year's Medicare Part D deal. Increased drug coverage for all Medicare recipients without negotiated prices. Set us back hundreds of billions of dollars while increasing the cost of pharmaceuticals substantially through this massive government subsidy. Further solidifies our first place status for per capita expenditures on drugs.

And who was it who arranged the sweetheart deal with the large health insurers a few months ago?

This debate is not about you ... or the millions of Americans who suffer at the hands of callous and conniving health coverage insurers day after day, many of whom are my patients. Upwards of 62% of all bankruptcies are medically related. You have heard this statistic. But did you know that almost 75% of those were "covered" by insurance. Until they were cut loose, released prematurely or forced to cover "deductibles." Ever tried to read your health insurance contract? Worse than your phone bill.

Faint pronouncements of tackling waste, fraud and abuse ring hollow. Equally timid pronouncements of a reliance on preventive care are nothing more than platitudes.

This is not a Right or Left issue. This is not a Blue State or Red State issue. If you listen or read carefully, you will see some of the brightest and innovative minds in medicine calling for something really different. On these very pages, can you find compelling ideas from Andrew Weil, Ken Dychtwald, Marcia Angell to Ray Kurzweil. Then read the Life Extension Revolution: The New Science of Growing Older Without Aging.

Our prevailing medical model is based on disease and organ pathology. A disease management system. No overt disease and your doctor is not interested or will dismiss you. It will not be covered by your insurance. Guess what else is not covered by your insurance? Depression, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, autism to name a few. Heart attack, cancer, severe bodily injury -- you're probably covered. But a vast and increasing number of Americans are suffering from dysfunctional states -- not recognized as disease. What is dysfunctional? "I don't feel right." Or "I don't feel like me any more." Sound familiar?

New market-based and patient-centered paradigms are evolving. This is the future. Functional Medicine. Longevity Medicine. Anti-Aging medicine. Integrative medicine. But how many of us knowledgeable and experienced professionals have been asked to participate in this public process? See how effectively they marginalized Dr. Howard Dean?

There will be no crisis in medical innovation and technology. That future is assured. How wisely we use and can afford these new and powerful tools is in doubt. And add to that the looming physician shortage.

So let me finish by quoting from James Canton, PhD, of the Institute for Global Futures. From The Extreme Future: The Top Trends That Will Reshape The World in the Next 20 Years. What will the Medicine of 2020 look like?

* Predictive -- forecasting future health status, predicting disease.

* Preventive -- stopping or avoiding illness, dysfunction.

* Restorative -- bringing back functionality such as sight, or restoring memory, health, or mobility.

* Regenerative -- restoring bones, muscles, organs, and cells.

* Life Extending -- lengthening life while maintaining health and productivity.

* Performance-Enhancing -- developing an individual's full for mental and physical potential for realizing maximum healthy performance.

* Replacing -- providing viable substitutes for person's body or mind in order to restore health and functionality.

* Augmenting -- enhancing special-purpose mental or physical functions, some may be
superhuman.

We are advocating for a transformative and seismic shift -- newer technologies fused with the practiced art of medicine. It is not about Byzantine bureaucratic mandates. This is about allowing revolutionary models to flourish. You can vote with your feet right now. The current debate is but a side show to the main event.