Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Care Reform: An Impossible Dream?

By Opeyemi, Feral Physician

Last night our president went to bat for us, with the best healthcare reform program that he has been able to propose, in an environment and a time heavily influenced by special interest groups.

These are special interests who do NOT have the best interests of you and I as their focus.

Thirty years ago, I graduated from college and took a year off to really examine whether I could become a physician. I knew a lot more that the average 21 year old about our health care system, having done an independent thesis on the history of medicine in the U.S. Could I flourish inside the belly of this behemoth of a force called “Conventional Medicine?” Could I even survive?

My background in biochemistry and cultural anthropology (they call this “interdisciplinary studies“, these days) freaked out my pre-med advisors, way back then. But it gave me an “outside insider” angle from which to observe The U.S. Medical Profession. I deliberately capitalize. My anthropologic studies allowed me to see how we had historically created an entire class of High Priests, with the same privileges and shadows as any group with access to great power and status. My biochemistry background allowed me to see how much of conventional medicine is NOT scientific. The U.S. Medical Profession is heavily skewed towards what we now know as “conventional medicine”, having wrestled power from alternative therapies repeatedly. Allopathic (translate “conventional”), vs. homeopathic (1). Thomsonian medicine vs. the status quo (2). The Flexner Report, standardizing The Medical Profession along the model of Johns Hopkins University, and coincidentally contributing to the closure of many medical schools training African Americans and women as physicians, in the 1920’s . Here is a quote from a paper on this topic:

“A hundred and sixty schools were in operation in 1905. By 1927, the number had dropped to eighty. True, most of those that were edged out had been sub-standard. But so were some of those that received foundation money and survived. The primary test was not their previous standing but their willingness to accept foundation influence and control.” (3)

My college research had showed that The Medical Profession feared women, and had already medicalized two of our physiologic imperatives—menstruation and childbirth—into illnesses.

“Wow”, I told myself in 1978. “This system is so flawed, that it cannot possibly survive much longer. We are smart enough to see this, and to join the rest of the “civilized” world and move into socialized medicine, soon.” Women were fighting back, claiming the right to birth plans and to alternatives, like having their babies at home or in free-standing birthing centers. Things were moving in the right direction, back in the ‘70’s. I figured I could wait the Bad Times out.

Boy, was I naïve!

I hadn’t counted on The Medical Profession teaming up with The Managed Care Business. Business and Medicine—strange bedfellows that teamed up with the founding of the American Medical Association in 1847. Founded, in1847, and incorporated, fifty years later.

Incorporated. Beware the corporate body. That institution with the rights, but none of the responsibilities of a human being. See the movie “The Corporation”(4) for a really interesting twist on responsibility and power. Or, rent “The Business of Being Born”(5) to see the directions Big Business and Medicine have taken.

Now it is not just menstruation and childbirth, but women’s third “Blood Mystery”—menopause—that are illnesses in need of treatment.

The very things that I thought would surely bring our corrupt system down have grown like cancer, threatening terminal illness in us, the U.S. public.

If Barak Obama is our David, and Big Business Medicine the Goliath, let us not just stand by and let him try to work a miracle with his slingshot.

Know your enemy.

Understand your enemy.

And get behind whatever reform we can to begin the process of dismantling this monster.



3. “He Who Pays the Piper: Creation of the Modern Medical (Drug) Establishment by G. Edward Griffin
4. The Corporation by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post and the information. I've never heard the medical mess we are in explained that well. Let's hope the future of health care in this country is better for our children.