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THOUGHT REFORMS:

RATIONING, RATIONALITY, RIGHTS, AND RESPONSIBILTY

Majid Ali, M.D.

What does a society need? How can it be delivered? The second question must be subordinated to the first. The primary error in the current debate on health reform is that there is little, if any, concern about what, in my opinion, must be changed in the massive disease-maintenance system in the U.S: the way we think about health and healing. From this error arise three other serious errors: (1) there is much talk about rights but none of responsibility; (2) there is much passion against rationing but no thought of rationality; and (3) there is a persistent belief that problems created by mis-spending money can be resolved by mis-spending more money.

To address the above issues, I offer a thought experiment in which diseases do not descend from Mount Olympus, nor do they emerge from Atlantis. We are left with four sources of disease: foods, environment, lifestyle stress, and genes. Since no gene therapies are available at this time for 99.99% of clinical disorders, genetics can be dropped. That means we must focus on:

First, how unhealthy foods sicken people. Specifically: (1) how foods are grown, produced, processed, and distributed (including issues of water); (2) who profits from unhealthy foods; and (3) how to stop enormous government subsidies that make bad foods cheap and good foods expensive.

Second, how environmental pollutants cause disease. Specifically: (1) how toxic exposures—chemicals in homes, schools, streets, and workplaces—threaten health; (2) how the polluters can be identified, regulated, and controlled; and (3) how the chemicalized and toxic human habitat can be restored.

Third, toxic thoughts—deep disappointments, anger, and hostility—impair health and eventually cause disease, and how these issues can be addressed.

I devote Darwin and Dysox Triology, the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth volumes of The Principles and Practice of Medicine (2009)1-3 to an in-depth discussion of the above issues—bioenergetic, economic, experimental, and clinical—to support my case for fundamental thought reform about the society's obligations, as well as physician's work.

Prevention of Hospitalization for Hypertensive Crisis

A 76-year-old woman consulted me for hypertension and chronic fatigue. Her blood pressure values on the right and left arms were 225/125 and 128/130 respectively. She had discontinued her blood pressure medications some days earlier. I told her we had a choice: we could call an ambulance to take her to a hospital or she could allow us to help her to lower her blood pressure with nondrug measures. First confused, then skeptic she agreed. Thirty-five minutes later, with Limbic Breathing,4 water, protein drink, and hawthorne berry tincture (15 drops), the BP values were 165/100 and 165/95 respectively. She was sent home with a prescription for an ACE inhibitor. Our group saved Medicare between $50,000 and $60,000, possibly more, by not immediately sending her to a hospital.

Avoidance of Unnecessary Brain Surgery

A 65-year-old man was hospitalized for headache, confusion, and hypertension. Work-up revealed the presence of a non-functioning pituitary adenoma. He was advised surgery at two university hospitals in New York City, which he deferred. During his visit with me, I learned that he had returned from China on the day before his hospitalization. None of the neurosurgeons had considered the possibility of travel-induced ischemic encephalopathy, which I described in Oxygen and Aging (2000).5 He was free of symptoms and clinically well. I explained to him that never once in my 52-years of study of medicine had I seen a non-functioning pituitary adenoma to cause encephalopathy, and that his symptoms, in my view, were due to cerebral ischemia. He has been symptom-free since he was hospitalized four months ago. He saved between $100,000 and $125,000, possibly more, by not consenting to surgery.

Creating An Africa on the Streets of New York City

I host "Science, Health, and Healing" at New York's WBAI radio (99.5 FM, heard on-line at www.wbai.org at noon on Mondays and Tuesdays). On September 1, a taxi driver in New York called in to say that he had diabetes and a thyroid disorder. Both problems cleared after he spent some months in Africa, but returned within weeks of his arrival back in the city. He asked if I could explain why that happened and what he could do about it. I told him that disease is separation from one's nature. The longer the distance between one's nature, the deeper the state of disease and the intensity of suffering. In Africa, he was in his elements that brought him back to nature, clearing diabetes and the thyroid disorder. Back in New York, he was again separated from his nature— acidic, free radicalized, and dysoxic due to toxicities of foods, environment, and thought—and his diseases returned. My proposed answer: Create an Africa of your own on the Streets of New York. Tall order, you say. Yes, but enlightenment has to begin somewhere.

Authentic Cost Saving

In past columns, I have documented the results of integrative protocols for reversing chronic disease while realizing enormous cost savings.6-10 To cite one example, the yearly cost of dialysis per patient in 2006 was approximately $70,000 for Medicare and $100,000 for non-Medicare patients. The annual increases in the dialysis costs are estimated to continue to grow by about 10%. The annual cost of our integrative plan (including oxystatic infusions and EDTA therapy) is less than $8,000 for the first year and $5-6,000 a year there after.6 These numbers speak eloquently. What these numbers are silent about is the enormous biologic cost of dialysis—pain, development of dialysis complications, and suffering—for decades , as well as the many non-renal benefits that can be obtained with integrative oxystatic therapies used to reverse renal failure.

Rationing in the Disease-Maintenance System

In 2008, $2.4 trillion were spent in the United States on the nation's disease maintenance system. In 2018, we are expected to spend $4.4 trillon. The Chinese and Saudis are paying for the third, forth, fifth, sixth, and seventh SPECT scans for Americans with metastatic cancer. (I write about the third, fourth, and more scans because I have never seen them contribute to patient longevity or quality of life. The first two scans, of course, are completely justifiable.) It seems unlikely that the aliens will continue to subsidize our mindless waste in years and decades to come.

A recent Kaiser study found that the average premium for a family policy offered at work rose above $13,300 in 2009 — up from $5,800 in 1999.11 The average employer paid more than $9,800 of that, while the workers contributed more than $3,500. Not unexpectedly, the workers also made larger co-payments and deductibles, while their benefits shrank.

Here are relevant words from President Obama: "The crushing cost of health care....now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes." 12 Here is the response of economist and Nobelist Paul Krugman: "Which brings us back to health care. It would be a crushing blow to progressive hopes if Mr. Obama doesn’t succeed in getting some form of universal care through Congress. But even so, reform isn’t worth having if you can only get it on terms so compromised that it’s doomed to fail." 13 Neither of them has spoken about the trio of toxicities of foods, environments, and stress in their countless speeches and editorials.

Not One Dime

Recently, President Obama told Congress that he will not sign any bill that will spend an extra dime on health care—disease maintenance monstrosity, to be accurate—that putatively will provide insurance to all U.S. citizens. It is not clear how he will cover forty-five million more people without spending one dime more. He has expressed satisfaction with the promise of $80 billion savings from drug companies over next ten years—$8 billion a year. That, I should point out comes to 0.18% of what we are expected to be spending by 2018. So, what words come to my mind when the sages of Washington dismiss the prospects of the need for health care rationing in America in coming years? Deafness, denial, or plain deception.

Rationality in the Disease-Maintenance System

Disease is a state of separation from one's nature. I reiterate my definition of disease. What separates people from their nature? Toxicities of thought, toxicities of foods, and toxicities of environment. From this perspective, I ask: How rational is the prevailing debate on health reform? How rational is President Obama's approach? I have not yet seen a focus on corporations that make foods unhealthy, pollute environment, and make people angry. How rational are the proposed Congressional bills? How rational are the columnists of The New York Times? Or the essayists of the Washington Post? Or the punditry of CNN? And, above all, the unending editorials of The New England Jounal of Medicine? I have not yet seen the Jounal focus on the true causes of disease, the trio of toxicities mentioned above.

A peculiar aspect of the current health debate is total neglect of the rising prevalences of various chronic disorders in the country. Below, I offer segments of a poem I wrote on the subject:

Prevalences in 2009

Chronically ill, one in two,

Teenagers in fog, one in three,

Children with inhalers, one in four,

Obese four-year-old, one in five,

Drugs for discipline in school, one in six,

Children in special classes, one in seven,

People with diabetes, one in eight,

What, where, after ten years of fate?

People tormented by health ills,

Bankrupted by hospital bills.

Herded in medical mills,

Drug coffers heavy with fills.

Problems understood, no solution,

Toxic environment, Congress pro-pollution.

Toxic foods, AMA anti-nutrition,

Toxic thoughts under corporate mission.

Predicted Prevalences in 2019

Drug monsters became slicker,

The sick became sicker,

Teenagers in fog, one in two,

Children with inhalers, one in three,

Obese toddlers, one in four,

Drugs for discipline in school, one in five,

Children in special classes, one in six,

People with diabetes, one in seven,

Who is healthy? Where in heaven?

Men, one in five with prostate cancer,

Women, one in seven with breast cancer.

Nutrients outlawed by onco-monsters,

Detox banned by their kept eco-monsters.

System broken, the suffering screamed,

Mercy, mercy, people pleaded.

Great vision! D.C. planners chirped,

We're the best in the world, the AMA burped.

Air thick with pollutants,

President surrounded by mutants.

Oblivious to poisoned foods,

Congress forever in dizzy moods.

McDonalds for all schools,

Wall Streeters are not fools.

In hospital wards, trays of slaughter,

Deep-fried, fructose-rich, plasticized water.

Rights in the Disease-Maintenance System

Rights and responsibilities are inextricably intertwined. So, health is both a right and a responsibility. Society must provide both authentic information about health preservation and access to practitioners with integrity. In return, a society should have a right to demand responsibility. For acute illness, the society must assure ready availability of competent and dedicated professionals, as well as appropriate technologies or every citizen. This is a right, not a previledge. I consider it to be a primary responsibility of America as a civilized society to preserve this right for all citizens.

How well is the country recognizing the citizen's right to health care? I will cite just one study to make my case. In September 2009, a Harvard University study found that there were 45,000 annual deaths from lack of health insurance, up from the 18,000 estimated by the Institute of Medicine in 2002.14

Responsibility in the Disease-Maintenance System

Suppose a problem begins in the kitchen, moves to the dining room, then to the street, and the classroom. Finally, it appears at the local emergency department. Who has the best chance of recognizing and addressing the problem, the parents or the White House? Suppose another problem begins with exposure to chemicals in the workplace, moves to the doctor's office, then to a hospital. Who has the best chance of recognizing and addressing the problem, the health monitors at the company or the Congress? In Table 1, I illustrate this crucial issue with the data concerning hospitalizations for diabetes-related problems in the U.S.

Table 1. UNEVEN SOCIETY, UNEVEN HEALTH CARE

Source: National Center for Health Statistics; Commonwealth Fund

 

Uninsured

Without PMD

Hospital Admissions*

White

12

21

180

Black

18

28

690

Hispanic

35

51

426

*Diabetes-related hospitalizations per 1000 admissions

Acute illnesses, with uncommon exceptions, are not sudden departures from health. They represent problems neglected for long periods of time. Hospitalizations for diabetes-related problems are preventable in most instances, including those for infections, extended wound care, amputations, dialysis, loss of vision, and cardiovascular complications. The data in Table 1 illustrates this core point well. If the number of diabetes-related hospitalizations can be kept relatively low for one segment of a society, it can certainly be kept equally low for others as well. What is needed is authentic education, motivation, coaching, and mentoring. Since the summer of 2008, my colleagues at New York's non-commercial, listener-supported WBAI radio and I have documented the enormous benefits of such an effort (see www.ethicsinmedicine.us for details).

All-Voluntary National Health Corps

I support President Obama's efforts to implement meaningful health care reforms to assure health insurance for all citizens. Regrettably, there has not been a focus on tort reforms nor curbing the influences of lobbyists. The events of the last several months strongly suggest that the nefarious influences of pharmaceutical, insurance, and HMO corporations will be left unchallenged. That would mean that no real efforts will be made to address the real issues of toxic foods, toxic environments, and toxic thoughts.

In my first column on this subject,15 I proposed a model for establishing an all voluntary National Health Corps—drawing on the experience of the Peace Corps—but robustly protected from the corporate influences of the American medical-industrial complex. The country has a sufficient number of civic leaders, teachers, and integrative clinicians willing and able to develop and implement such a program. In my view, authentic education on the subjects of nutrition, environment, and stress cannot be assured unless it is fully protected from corporate influences, as well as doctors who are controlled by them. This goal can be achieved only with the organization of an all voluntary National Health Corps.

In closing, what is required is a radically different vision of what health is and how chronically unwell people can be educated and supported on the road to recovery. We need a shift from "one-disease-one-bug-one-drug" model of treating "diseases" to caring for people with broad ecologic thinking.1 Without a radically new vision of healthcare, the United States cannot sustain single-payer universal health insurance at this time. In ten years, the prevailing medical model will most assuredly bankrupt the country. The problems caused by the trio of toxic foods, toxic environment, and toxic thoughts cannot be addressed with synthetic drugs. The evidence-based medicine must now focus on issues of unhealthy foods, environmental pollutants, and chronic frustration and anger. It must be recognized that problems created by mis-spent money can only be compounded by mis-spending more money.

References

1. Ali M. The Principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine Volume III: Darwin, Oxygen Homeostasis, and Oxystatic Therapies. 3 rd. Edi. 2009. New York. Insitute of Integrative Medicine Press.

2. Ali M. The Principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine Volume XI: Darwin, Dysox, and Disease. 2000. 3rd. Edi. 2009. New York. Insitute of Integrative Medicine Press.

3. Ali M. The Principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine Volume XI: Darwin, Dysox, and Integrative Protocols. 2009. New York. Insitute of Integrative Medicine Press.

4. Ali M. Autonomic Breathing Test (ABT) and its application to 236 patients. Townsend Letter-The examiner of Alternative Medicine. 2009:October.

5. Ali M. Oxygen and Aging. (Ist ed.) New York, Canary 21 Press. Aging Healthfully Book 2000.

6. Ali M. The dysox model of renal insufficieny and improved renal function with oxystatic therapies. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients.2005;267:101-108.

7. Ali M. Juco J, Fayemi, A, et al. The dysox model of asthma and clinical outcome with integrated management plan. Townsend Letter-The examiner of Alternative Medicine. 2006;274:58-61. (May 2006)

8. Ali M. Fischer S, Juco J, et al. The dysox model of coronay artery disease. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. 2006;270/71:110-112.

9. Ali M. Hurt human habitat and energy deficitHealing Through Restoration of Krebs cycle chemistry. Townsend Letter-The examiner of Alternative Medicine. 2006; 279:112-115.

10. Ali M.The Dysox Model of Diabetes and De-Diabetization Potential. Townsend Letter-The examiner of Alternative Medicine. 2007; 286:137-145.

11. The Numbers and Health Care Reform. Editorial. The New York Times. September 22, 2009

12. Obama, BH.. Remarks of President Barack Obama -- Address to Joint Session of Congress. February 24th, 2009

13. Krugman P. When it comes to domestic policy, there are two Barack Obamas.. The New York Times. June 25, 2009

14. Woolhandler S, and David Himmelstein D, Wilper A. Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults. Online edition of the American Journal of Public Health. September 2009.

15. Ali M. A National Health Corps? Townsend Letter-The examiner of Alternative Medicine. 2009:22-24.

 

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