Tag Archives: health care insurance

Find a health care voice: The individual mandate, individualized

The following piece was written by recent Amherst College graduate Elodie Reed, reporting for the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript in Peterborough, NH. The original can be read online at the Ledger-Transcript website and on the Concord Monitor website.

Find a health care voice: The individual mandate, individualized

By Elodie Reed
Monday, October 7, 2013
(Published in print: Tuesday, October 8, 2013)

“This past summer, I, a somewhat politically ignorant, country-loving, New Hampshire native, found myself in the most unlikely of places: Washington, D.C.. As an intern for the Federal Christian Science Committee on Publication, the legislative group for the Christian Science Church, I became well acquainted with downtown D.C., spreadsheets, our legislators on Capitol Hill, and most importantly, the Affordable Care Act.

“As a Christian Scientist, I actively rely on prayer for preventative and curative care for any issue that arises. In addition, I have access to Christian Science practitioners for prayerful assistance, as well as Christian Science nurses and Christian Science nursing facilities, which provide religious nonmedical care with services such as bandaging, mobility, food preparation and bathing that allow someone to be physically comfortable while undergoing prayerful treatment. While the Christian Science Church leaves all health care decisions up to each individual, most Christian Scientists choose not to use medical care, relying successfully and solely on Christian Science treatment. Having never used medical care, medical health insurance hasn’t seemed relevant for me or other Christian Scientists … until now.

“With the exchanges opening up last week and the ACA individual mandate taking effect come January, myself and other Christian Scientists, like many people in this country, are left wondering what to do about medical health insurance. Almost definitely as a result of oversight in the rushed drafting process for the ACA, there is currently no religious exemption for Christian Scientists. Only the Amish, the Mennonites, and Health Care Sharing Ministries can claim exemption to the individual mandate under a ‘religious conscious objection.’ It doesn’t seem fair, however, for Christian Scientists to pay into a health care system that does not provide the type of care they have used throughout their lives — prayer and Christian Science practitioners and nurses.

“For this reason, it made sense for me to go to D.C., contrary to what would appear sensical from my self-description above. I had this wonderful opportunity to be a voice in a legislative issue directly affecting me, and I also could take the time to learn more of what Congress is all about.

“What I saw there was — don’t fall out of your chair — encouraging.

“By working with the Christian Science Committee on Publication to find a solution to the lack of provision for Christian Scientists in the ACA, I met people at every stage of the game: constituents, lobbyists, many staffers, and even some Congressmen. With most of these individuals, when myself and my colleagues took the time to explain our issue in a face-to-face conversation, something amazing happened: people not only listened from both sides of the aisle, but heard us, and helped us move forward on our legislative efforts.

“While Christian Scientists do not yet have a solution to the lack of a provision under the ACA, we have taken the first and most important step. By considering all the ways to be included in or excluded from the new health care law, Christian Scientists have learned how to be part of the political process, building relationships and becoming a respected presence on Capitol Hill. We have allowed our voices to be heard, and though the things we say may be quite different, they matter. Our health care needs, like everyone else’s, matter.

“When individuals become people and not just numbers, individuals’ needs are much easier to recognize, and address. Sure, there are over 300 million people in our country, each of whom has singular needs, but the more voices behind those collective needs that can be heard, the better. The only way you can address a problem is if you know about it — if you hear about it — first.

“Which is why we shouldn’t all just throw our hands up and say, ‘Well, to hell with it,’ about Congress, about the ACA, about anything. The purpose behind the ACA, after all, is to provide for everyone’s needs. The implementation may not be perfect (let’s be honest, right now it may be only barely functional), but like someone new to parenting, it’ll get better, it’ll become more effective. And eventually, akin to the weathered and dependable parents like my own, our health care system will find a way to provide for as many needs as it can, and for the ones it can’t, we’ll have been given the tools to figure it out.

“Elodie Reed, originally of Bow, now lives in Harrisville. She is a reporter for the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, covering the towns of Dublin, Jaffrey and Rindge.”

Doctored – Interview with Dr. Stephanie Mills

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

Christian Science health care insurance update

The Federal Office of the Christian Science Committee on Publication held a Town Hall Forum this summer to discuss the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Health Care Reform Law of 2010, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This post is to summarize what was discussed regarding the implications of this law for Christian Scientists, how the Committee is responding, and what you can do to help.

Last week, Milford Assistant Committee on Publication Don Alusic attended a local event sponsored by United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen and asked a staff member for an opportunity to discuss Christian Science health care insurance coverage. This led to a meeting between Senator Shaheen’s staff and the Federal office to ask for support for a Congressional bill that would exempt Christian Scientists from the Federal mandate to buy health insurance (similar to Massachusetts’ religious conscience exemption).

According to the new Federal ACA law, by 2014 all Americans must have or purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty. If you are covered by Medicare (for those 65 or older), Medicaid (for those with low income), Tri-Care (for those in the military), a Veterans’ insurance plan, or an employer plan, you will meet the requirement. The government will subsidize the cost for those less able to afford it. The penalty starts out small the 1st year ($95 or 1% of the family’s income), but increases to $695 or 2.5% by 2016.

At present, there is neither accommodation for nor exemption from these requirements for Christian Scientists. The Federal Office of the Committee on Publication, with the support of the Christian Science Board of Directors, has been working diligently on Capitol Hill however, and that dialog is progressing. They are proceeding patiently and prayerfully. They have garnered support from many legislators either to include Christian Science treatment and care in the benefits offered or to exempt Christian Scientists from the health insurance requirement.

By 2013, States are required to set up Exchanges or insurance marketplaces where individuals may “shop” for insurance coverage. New Hampshire voted to let the Federal Government set up the exchange instead. The New Hampshire Committee has been involved with the group helping to implement the exchange. We have received some support for the inclusion of Christian Science care in the benefits offered. Our goal is to be included in at least one of the insurance plans.

How can you help? Most importantly by giving this your prayerful attention.

Nathan Talbot, the chairman of The Christian Science Board of Directors, addressing Christian Scientists during the Town Hall Forum, asked them to affirm the God-given qualities belonging to each individual involved in the process, whether in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches of government; qualities such as wisdom, patience, intelligence; and to recognize and celebrate the presence of the Comforter as providing the ultimate care for mankind, knowing that the human scene will find its appropriate adjustment.

Please see the Christian Science website for more information (FAQ), and to sign up for the periodic Federal newsletter: http://christianscience.com/federal