Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stimulus Bill Opens Health War

The proposed stimulus bill includes $1.1 billion in funding that would research and compare medical treatments, a step some portray as the first step to government rationing of health care. The drug and medical industries are gearing up their powerful lobbying forces to fight this effort to make medical expenses accountable for patient outcomes.

A coalition called the Partnership to Improve Patient Care includes the lobbying arms of the drug, device and biotechnology industries as well as patient-advocacy groups and medical-professional societies. Coalition spokesman David Di Martino says the research envisioned in the House bill may be used "in an inappropriate manner that may limit treatment options for patients." In other words, their profits.

Anyone who's read Shannon Brownlee's award-winning book OVERTREATED: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker & Poorer knows that cost does not equate to outcome in medicine today. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about the economics of health care in America.

One interesting thought is that the medical world may be terrified of this type of research because it might show that the cost-benefit ratio of complementary and alternative medicine is superior to the drug-based medical system we have today. CAM treatments are usually much less expensive than standard medical care and it can produce positive results.

I'm living proof of it. What I spent on CAM treatments to restore my health was a fraction of what was spent on specialists in Dallas and a trip to the Mayo Clinic.

The fact is the stimulus bill is the opening round of a new battle to change health care in America and the status quo are going to fight it.

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