Love and compassion for everyone, not the making of greater and greater profits, are the high motives for prayer and healing. We see this love exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ, who was ever about his Father’s, divine Love’s, business (see Luke 2:49) and who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). We see this throughout history in the dedicated and selfless efforts of many doctors, nurses, and other health-care workers to do their best to relieve suffering above all other concerns. Yet the example of selflessness that Jesus left us is not yet the universal model.
Physician and writer Lisa Rankin, Md recently wrote a blog titled, “Has the health care industry lost its moral compass?” Dr. Rankin writes that health care professionals are spending too much time and money on procedures that are not helping, that may be hurting patients, rather than being supportive to patients by taking the time to talk with them, a practice which has been proven to help and heal.
Dr. Rankin writes, “Our health care system is seriously broken. Yet, those in power do not want the system to be fixed. Most of the money in health care dollars is going into the hands of medical device companies, HMO’s, and pharmaceutical companies, not doctors or hospitals. These companies have powerful lobbies and big budgets to ensure that Congress doesn’t enact laws that limit their power and profits.”
In the recent film Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, renowned physician Dr. Andrew Weil comments that “We don’t have a health care system in this country, we have a disease management system.” And medical writer Shannon Brownlee states, “We’re in the grip of a very big industry and it doesn’t want to stop making money.”
According to Escape Fire and Dr. Rankin, United States citizens spend $2.7 trillion per year on health care, which amounts to $8,000 per person per year. Globally, the average health care expenditure is $3,000 per person per year. We spend more than $300 billion per year on pharmaceuticals, almost as much as the rest of the world combined. About 50% of Americans take drugs and they consume about 50% of the drugs produced worldwide even though Americans represent only 5% of world population.
One safeguard against such problems is the prevention of medical monopoly. Mary Baker Eddy, a New Hampshire native, was a nineteenth century spiritual thinker seeking solutions to health. As Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Eddy saw great danger in monopolies. In our day, some governments still restrict freedoms to the detriment of the well-being of its citizens. Religious and democratic freedoms enshrined in the United States Constitution need to be upheld to improve the US health care system. A free market system – freedom of competition – is necessary to reduce health care costs.
Medical monopoly has been studied since 1995 by Registered Nurse Sue A. Blevins who founded the “Institute for Health Freedom.” In a report published by the Cato Institute, Blevins wrote:
Nonphysician providers of medical care are in high demand in the United States. But licensure laws and federal regulations limit their scope of practice and restrict access to their services. The result has almost inevitably been less choice and higher prices for consumers. . . . Studies have repeatedly shown that qualified nonphysician providers–such as midwives, nurses, and chiropractors–can perform many health and medical services traditionally performed by physicians–with comparable health outcomes, lower costs, and high patient satisfaction. . . . Licensure laws appear to be designed to limit the supply of health care providers and restrict competition to physicians from nonphysician practitioners. The primary result is an increase in physician fees and income that drives up healthcare costs. . . . Eliminating the roadblocks to competition among health care providers could improve access to health services, lower health costs, and reduce government spending.
A recent educational film shows how some freedoms have been won back by alternative medicine. “Doctored” is a new documentary by Jeff Hays that shows how chiropractors have freed themselves from attempts to monopolize health care. For decades chiropractors were labeled dangerous quacks and prevented from collecting insurance funds for their treatments. The film states, “There’s been a deliberate campaign to label anybody who doesn’t sell or distribute drugs, surgery or radiation as a quack.”
“Doctored” reviews the Supreme Court case of Wilk vs. The American Medical Association. In 1984, the AMA was found guilty of an illegal conspiracy to contain and eliminate the chiropractic profession, and was ordered to stop. Since then the chiropractic profession has grown to be more accepted.
Dr. Stephanie Foisy Mills from the Concord area helped produce “Doctored.” Dr. Mills founded Crossroads Chiropractic in Pembroke. We spoke to Dr. Mills and asked her about the film “Doctored” and alternative care.
What role did Dr. Mills play in the birth of this documentary?
Dr. Mills said that she had heard about the project from the producer, Jeffery Hays, who had visited New Hampshire. He needed a financial backer and Dr. Mills stepped in.
What led Dr. Mills to become “an activist,” if you will?
Dr. Mills was adverse to taking medications when she was a small child. She said in the movie there is a segment about a boy in Utah, Parker Jenson, who was told he had cancer. Parker told his parents that he felt fine. He was told he had “invisible cancer.” The parents had never believed that he had cancer and fought to avoid the recommended chemotherapy. The doctor then told authorities that the boy had only two weeks to live and went to court to force his treatment. An independent MRI showed that the boy didn’t have cancer at all. The film states that the doctor was looking for a 12 year old boy to complete a clinical trial.
What does Dr. Mills see as the dangers inherent in a medical monopoly in America?
“It’s frustrating from a provider’s standpoint to see how the insurance companies are forcing the care being given,” she said. “For instance, x-rays are required before a patient is approved for MRI’s, even if an x-ray is not necessary. There was an anti-trust lawsuit by the AMA against chiropractors to eliminate them all together. It took 11 years. AMA is a powerful force – it’s amazing that chiropractors won. It was turned around when some medical doctors came forward with documents that showed what AMA’s motive was – to destroy their chiropractic practice.”
Do you think we will ever be able to return to a society in which powerful lobbies are not calling the shots?
“We will not win at higher levels since there is not enough money to battle the lobbyists. We may have some successes when different officials are elected, but elections can go the other way as well.”
How can the average American work to promote and support an environment of choice in health care?
“We need grass roots involvement to educate the public that there are alternatives and that these alternatives work. Moms and Dads need to speak up to governments.”
Who else is working on this issue of patient choice? What do you think is the leading edge of this conversation?
“There are a lot of alternative folks and groups who are working on this. Much comes of individual sharing and educating.”
In your experience, have you seen prayer or a spiritual approach to health care to be beneficial factors in recovery?
“On an individual basis – absolutely.” Dr. Mills says that she has seen patients who have a belief system and positive attitude that definitely do have better outcomes. She mentioned a story about a woman who was operated on and when the doctors opened her up, they saw that there was nothing to be done and that she would live only briefly after the operation. The daughter begged them not to tell her mom this, so they told the woman the operation was successful. She lived way beyond what they had expected. “The operation had done nothing, but her expectation brought amazing results.”
What role do you think spiritual care might play in a broader view of health and health care treatment? What keeps this approach from being more widely accepted? And, how does access to information or lack thereof – because of health care monopolies, play a role?
“So many opportunities are available. Telling the stories on an individual basis is really important. Individual experiences are key. Speak up to your neighbors and friends and strangers. This is what we need to overcome the monopolies.”
Thank you Dr. Mills for sharing your insights and experience.
Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Unconstitutional and unjust coercive legislation and laws, infringing individual rights, must be ‘of few days, and full of trouble.’ The vox populi, through the providence of God, promotes and impels all true reform; and, at the best time, will redress wrongs and rectify injustice. Tyranny can thrive but feebly under our Government. God reigns, and will ‘turn and overturn’ until right is found supreme.” (Miscellaneous Writings, page 80)
Studies show that spiritual care is the most popular alternative care method used by the public – about 50% of us pray for spiritual healing. It improves lifestyles, wellness, and health outcomes. Christian Science treatment uses the power of Mind, God, to heal. It is available to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
© 2012 Christian Science Committee on Publication for New Hampshire