Oregon Senatorial Race 2004,Oregon Senator
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Health Care:

  • The Demand for Healthcare: As a nation we currently spend 15% of our GNP on healthcare, and the demand for healthcare is even higher than this large amount of delivered service.  We spend more on healthcare than our tax base can support as we note from the annual rate of rise of the national debt.  Healthcare is a significant portion of the government budget, and the demand for more is almost unlimited.
  • Summary of possible solutions: Managed Care has emerged as a solution to ration services to those subscribing to insurance plans.  Many cry for government to establish a Socialized Medicine/Single-Payer Canadian Style System.  The significant end of life health care costs, high tech emergency interventions, and chronic disease treatments make private pay fee for service unavailable to all but the wealthy few.  A national push toward healthcare in the preventive sense can turn the tide from a disease-care system to a health-care system.  Likewise, public health analysis of various environmental and lifestyle risks may change the need for healthcare utilization.  Some of the risks include: air, water, & solid toxin effluents from industry and transportation; food-based risks such as additives, colorings, preservatives, fillers, antibiotic, herbicide, and pesticide residues, etc.; nutrient deficiencies & excesses related to the development of chronic disease; lifestyle hazards associated with excessive eating, smoking, alcohol, drugs, sedentary lifestyle, job stress, risky recreation, and disharmonious relationships.  
  • Productivity Solution: Given that disease-care needs are endlessly expanding, the medical system cannot supply all the needs of every person in the society.  The first solution to the healthcare crisis is curbing the ever-rising demand for more healthcare.  As a society we must adopt a new healthcare paradigm of personal responsibility and prevention.  By reducing demand on the system, society may then be able to provide the resources for health maintenance, aging, accidents/trauma, genetic illness, disease palliation, and end of life care.  But even this residual finite amount of healthcare may be larger than many of the poorest segment of the populace can afford.  Taxes and insurance premium support the current healthcare system.  A second aspect of the solution to the healthcare crisis is to simply be more productive as a society.  This will generate the revenues necessary to support the unavoidable residual of healthcare expenditures.  In fact, the consumption of disease oriented healthcare could be greatly reduced by focusing on a vast array of preventive strategies.  A society with a great deal of illness is symptomatic of a society out of balance with nature.
  • Environmental Considerations: The EPA monitors many elements that reflect the health of the environment, such as air and water pollutants.  The CDC monitors diseases and death rates.  We have assumed that the established levels of pollutant effluents and toxins in our air, water, and food are safe.  But in fact, the levels of allowed pollutants are more of a compromise with what is economically feasible than what is ideal.  The pollution of our bodies and environment with subtle amounts of metals and inorganic & organic compounds may be a contributory cause in the catastrophic rise in chronic diseases such as cancer.  Enzyme systems and gene expression can respond to microgram amounts of some pollutants.  The cancer rate has gone from 1:1000 in 1900 to 1:3 in 2000.  It appears that an external factor or strong change in lifestyle has affected people's bodies and contributed to the huge increase in chronic degenerative disease.  The solution to cancer is not to find a more effective chemo, radiation, surgical, and/or bio-tech method of killing cancer (although such treatment would be appreciated by those who have already fallen victim to cancer).  The pollution of the environment, and the resultant poisoning of our bodies, is a likely contributory cause to our national cancer epidemic. 
  • The War on Cancer:  Governmental leadership in supporting data collection to identify the source of this plague would help focus our efforts to eliminate the environmental and lifestyle causes.  Until the causes of cancer have been identified, we should continue to engage in eliminating the most likely culprits.
  • An Environmental Solution: Industry currently releases effluents into the environment based on a cost effectiveness tradeoff.  Industry could reduce the amount of effluents to an arbitrarily low level by the application of more processing to those effluents.  Processing is dependent on energy and equipment to reduce the pollutant effluent levels.  As our economy moves toward Alternative Energy, and it becomes increasingly more productive through mechanization, more resources can be applied to effluent processing. 
  • Food Supply & Health: The quality of a person's health is probably related to the level of nutrients in our food supply.  The soil may be depleted due to over-farming, hybridization, and/or Genetic Modifications.  The foods may be depleted of nutrients because of processing for taste texture and durability, early harvesting for shipping, and/or rapid growth stimulation by synthetic fertilization.  Processed food may be denatured and sterilized.  It may have high sugar and unhealthy fats (TFA's), preservatives, colorings, taste enhancers, and numerous other processing agents of questionable safety and effect on the body.  Processed food almost certainly does not have the nutrient value of nature's food.  Regardless of the cause for the degradation of the nutritional value of our foods, we must restore the quality of our food supply.  This may be an important factor in nourishing our bodies and preventing disease.  
  • Medical Savings Accounts: I believe it is important to return control of the medical options utilized to the individual and their chosen health care providers.  One method of empowering people to make truly effective healthcare choices is to allow the accumulation of generous Medical Savings Accounts.  Allowing people to save up to $200,000 tax free, and have that money remain in tax free savings that can be applied to retirees payment of Medicare supplemental insurance, optional prescriptions, etc., benefits everyone in several ways.  First, it helps the country and the individual by encouraging saving.  Second, it helps to provide a nice health care cushion for retirees who may face increased health care costs as they age.  Third, this will enable patients to access Alternative medical care if desired.   Alternative and preventive health care is less expensive and more beneficial to overall health than drugs alone, thereby improving the quality of life.  Fourth, people who pay for their own medical services will be less likely to overutilize the medical system. Fifth, it will take some of the strain off the taxpaying public for providing all the benefits needed by the elderly and poor.
  • Catastrophic Health Care Coverage must still be provided through major medical policies.  Traditionally the uninsured were treated by the County Medical clinics and faith based hospitals.  Currently, no one who really needs medical care is turned away because of finances.  It appears that 3rd party payers (e.g. HMO's, insurance companies and government) are inefficient in delivering truly effective medical care.  It may be possible to restructure the insurance industry into a very thin administrative service.  Collection of payments, and disbursing of funds for major medical policies could all be done automatically by computer processing.  A higher quality care could be delivered by simply allowing doctors to make the judgments of appropriate care instead of insurance companies dictating medical treatment, and then playing endless delay and denial games to reduce the claim rates.  Artificial intelligence programs could detect over-utilization and flag physicians for chart review.  Insurance policy premiums should be variable dependent on the individual's decisions to follow a healthy lifestyle.  Premiums should be more expensive for every health care risk people choose to engage; and should escalate for each year they continue in negative-health-impact activities.
  • Medicare & Drugs: I support giving drugs to Medicare recipients who truly need them to maintain their quality of life, relieve pain, and support body function.  But, as a culture we are expending very little attention on disease avoidance.  We have become accustomed to an easy fix where we simply remove the symptoms or prop up a failing body system with chemical stimulants or depressants.  Our faith in conventional medicine has almost reached the level of a religion.  As a society, we spend 15% of our GNP on healthcare.  While this is high, the cost of healthcare is not the major problem.  The issue is that we are becoming less healthy as a nation.  We need to engage in healthcare that promotes and restores health instead of just treating sickness.  As a society we have become dependent on chemicals to solve our mental, emotional, and physical symptoms.  Drugs should be used as a temporary crutch to support the body's function while it is mending.  Drugs are not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and proper nourishment.
  • Complementary & Alternative Medicine: Alternative medical treatments which are more gentle, balancing, and nourishing should be used as a first line medical intervention to relieve symptoms and restore function.  Drugs should be used to overcome short-term/acute problems if an alternative therapy (herbal, homeopathic, and/or macro-nutrient remedy) is not available.  If it is necessary for a patient to use drugs, he/she should transition to alternative healing methods as soon as possible.  Long term preventive strategies should be engaged to prevent recurrence.  Genetic testing is currently available for a number of important risk factors.  It may be possible to prevent, delay or reduce the severity of a genetic weakness.  Confidential testing should be done for every American, and he/she should take personal responsibility to supplement potentially genetically weak body systems with the appropriate nutrients.

 


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