An Apple A Day, and Profit Away!

Dr. Dean Ornish, medical editor for HuffPo, felt compelled today to carry some bi-partisan water for those intent on profiting off our fellow citizens’ illness, in a piece entitled, Don’t Tread on Me: Transcending the Left Wing/Right Wing Health Care Debate.

I hate to break it to the Doc, but health care reform ceased to be a left/right issue long ago.
As it stands now, it’s purely populist/corporatist, and that transcends all party labels.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, present IMP Master of the Obvious designee laid it all out succinctly during his recent dust-up with Joe Scowlborough, when he asks what the value of having private, for-profit insurance in the mix.
Short answer, bupkis.

But Dr. Ornish sidesteps the free market elephant in the room, and proceeds to lay out his bi-partisan suggestions for perpetuating illness-profit, our own uniquely American macabre lifestyle choice.

For Democrats, it’s a way to make true health care (not just sick care) available to the 48 million uninsured while reducing costs rather than dramatically increasing them, as I outlined in an earlier column.

For Republicans, this approach emphasizes freedom of choice and personal responsibility, not to blame people but to empower them. These are things you can do to heal yourself, to keep you and your family healthy that also, by the way, substantially reduce health care costs while improving the quality of care.

His solution? Diet and lifestyle.
Funny thing that this is all the rage now, as the free market has had free reign over our collective health care for countless decades, and has had all the opportunities in the world to promote healthy lifestyles and cost reduction, so the status quo is a direct reflection of what the free market has brought to our nation’s health.

Diet and lifestyle are core factors, but perhaps our childhood obesity epidemic is the strongest proof of how much our political infrastructure, D or R, values free market tenets and campaign cash over societal health. Happy Meal anyone?
The Doctor cites his attempt to promote healthier lifestyles, but then draws a conclusion which undercuts his very argument.

I understand those who think that single-payer health care is the way to go. However, after needing 14 years to get Medicare to do something as obvious as paying for intensive lifestyle changes scientifically proven to reverse heart disease despite the strong personal support of those at the highest levels of government and the leading experts in the scientific community, I share the Republican concern about greatly expanding the power of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. I’m as deeply suspicious of big government as anyone…
Bureaucracies tend to perpetuate themselves, whether they are multinational corporations or large government institutions such as Medicare, often at the expense of those that they are supposed to serve. Too much power in any institution tends to stifle innovation.

So Medicare is the fall guy once again, the one government program which has done more for the wellness of our citizenry than any private insurer, as the power of the insurance bureaucracies gets a free pass, the power that denies care outright to maximize profits and contributes nothing to the overall health of America.

Doc, with all do respect, come join us in working American reality, because your defense of for-profit health care financing only perpetuates our national health care tragedy.

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