Friday, September 25, 2015

The Politics of America’s Medical Crisis

America is facing a future health and financial catastrophe unparalleled in history. 

Soaring medical costs, and ineffective medical management is undermining our society’s foundation. Yet most 2016 presidential candidates only focus on berating the other party while avoiding the hard questions. Let’s face it, we are a people more excited about social gossip than in saving the lives of the 27,500 husbands and fathers who will die of prostate cancer this year, or saving the estimated 2,134,586 who will die this year from our 4 deadliest diseases: cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. It is no wonder the public is so disenchanted with politicians and holds our political system with so little confidence. And if you think this is bad, just wait till 2020 and beyond. The question becomes, will our political system grow a conscience, and wake up to what they’re doing in time to affect change? 

Examples of this disconnect from future reality were abundant during the second televised Republican Debate though I want to focus on one comment by Mike Huckabee. He made a bold, though somewhat poorly refined statement. He offered, we simply need to cure cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s rather than just treating the symptoms. On the surface this sounds good, but one wonders, how do we accomplish this task when as a country we are doing so much to foster these diseases. Yes, though trying to look good, America is the enabler.

After 40 years of looking for a cure with little success, one would think someone would get the message. What we are doing doesn’t work! Furthermore it may be detrimental to the health of our Nation! Sure, there have been medical bright spots and limited successes. Many of our medical procedures are better refined, but there are still few cures. With all the money spent to date, what’s wrong with this picture?  

I ask this because in the 40 years we have been trying to find cures for these 4 deadly diseases, the National Cancer Institute has spent more than $90 Billion fostering research on cancer alone. In fact, in 2015 the U.S. will spend approximately $5,414,000,000 on cancer research, $1,651,000,000 for heart disease, $1,039,000,000 on diabetes, and $586,000,000 on Alzheimer’s in hopes of finding a cure. Beyond this government provided $8.69 Billion for research, there are several Billions more gathered from all the charity drives such as walks, bake sales, stair climbs, and afternoon 5K’s. But all these funds are only making minimal progress as evidenced by the $374 Billion Americans spend annually on prescriptions along with the estimated $70 Billion for indirect disease financial losses.

And the cost of medical care in America just keeps increasing. Drug costs are rising at alarming rates as evidenced by the recent attempted ~5,500% increase for the drug Daraprim. This drug, originally costing around $1 to produce, previously selling for $13.50, was recently re-priced to $750 per pill taking it out of reach for many in medical need. Though the drug company has since said they would somewhat rollback the new price, this is just the canary in the coalmine. Already there are a raft of new drugs that will cost patients $500 to $1,000 per pill. Then there are the existing drug increases with only 1,000% to 2,000% increases. It is no wonder that those with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s are being forced into bankruptcy. With treatment costs as much as $100,000 to $200,000 per year for many diseases, a millionaire is quickly reduced to abject poverty. Now consider that over 38 million Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, many without adequate insurance. Did you know, over 26% of Americans (over 81 million people) have no savings, and of all those with bank accounts the average total family savings are less than $5,000. What do these people do when sick? Even with insurance coverage they have trouble paying for their deductible, and often times skip pills. And, if it’s between food and drugs for their family, I know which one wins out every time. Too many times these Americans simply suffer in silence, or die in poverty. As a Country, we do little to correct this tragedy.  

And it just keeps getting worse.

At the current medical inflation rate, total annual treatment costs in the next 5 years for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s are estimated to reach $1.5 Trillion. That’s $1,500,000,000,000. From which of your pockets do you think this will come? Now you see the issue.

But this is still the tip of the problem. As Mike Huckabee alluded to, in this country we focus on disease management rather than finding a cure. In addition to currently being without cures, we are a Nation that’s becoming sicker by the minute. With the increasing obesity epidemic, it is estimated by the year 2030 over half the U.S. population will be morbidly obese, and over 1 in 3 Americans will be diabetic. Did you know many consider obesity a precursor to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s? That growing bundle of fat around your belly, arms and legs is alive. It’s like a little factory that’s putting out all manner of toxins overwhelming your immune system and creating disease. Then add the increasing medical disability once cancer, heart disease, or diabetes initiates. With these rising figures looming, it is no wonder forward thinkers are concerned over military, public and private sector vacancies resulting from a broadening lack of healthy applicants. As a Nation we verbosely proclaim we have the best military around, yet without enough healthy soldiers, we may soon be forced to change our tune.

So why are we allowing this degradation of America to happen? The best I can figure, is because…

         1) We have a governing system that’s setup to reward the act of research regardless of results,
         2) a drug approval process that keeps good unfunded healing drugs off the market while rewarding those backed by massive funding,
         3) a governing system that’s more focused on political gain and re-election contributions than on helping the sick and our country recover,
         4) a medical system where doctors are provided little nutritional training,
         5) and a business model that looks to maximize personal financial gain at the expense of the poorest of our citizens.

In other words, we are too focused on personal gain at any cost rather than helping our fellow Americans and our Country in making a real difference. And if you are in a position of political power, have ever voted according to your party without understanding what’s at stake, or acquiesced your vote to a financial campaign contributor, then take a long look in the mirror. You’re the problem rather than solution.

Now one of our greatest holdbacks to finding a cure comes from the drug approval process in America. Did you know new drug approval by the FDA could take over 10 years and cost between $125 Million and $350 Million. Of course, a few drugs experience a fast-track process but this is not without onerous costs, extensive time, and abundant research. During the approval process there are multiple phase studies involving thousands of patients to determine effectiveness, dosage, and adverse reactions of the proposed new drug or treatment. On average only 8% of drugs presented to the FDA receive approval.

Does this mean if the FDA does not approve a drug, or procedure, that it has no merit? Not hardly. I know several who have been cured of cancer by non-approved FDA methods both here and from other countries.  So take a moment and think about the FDA approval process. With all the time and money involved for new drug approval, can you see how the only drugs that make it to market under our current system are those that drug manufacturers can place a heavy price tag on to re-coupe their time and costs, and then make a substantial profit? Drug manufacturers are not in business to cure people. They’re in business to make money. The new drugs coming out at $1,000 per pill are prime examples of this return-on-research reward process. This is why non-patentable natural drugs will never be listed as approved by the FDA. There is simply no money to pay for the time and research necessary to obtain FDA approval.

And just because a successful drug or medical procedure is approved in another country, doesn’t mean we have it for use here. The FDA still wants the testing and verification, again costing millions and years of time. Even successful drugs and medical procedures commonly used in other countries may take 5 to 10 years just to benefit Americans. 

So with all this said, here is where we stand:

         1) Our current policy on obesity is a failure. Just look at the numbers or the people as you stroll down the street.
         2) Diabetes is skyrocketing, and viciously increasing within our young children.
         3) The U.S drug and medical approval process is currently only good for expensive drugs that are out of reach by many.
         4) Because of cost, our current drug approval system totally negates the benefit of any non-patentable natural substance and removes them as treatment and cure options.
         4) Politicians are more concerned with party politics and their re-election rather than health of Americans.
         5) Most doctors are poorly qualified to discuss nutrition with patients do to lack of nutritional training.
         6) There are those uncaring individuals and medical companies in our free economy that are preying on the sick and becoming wealthy at the expense of a healthy America.
         7) The exorbitant cost of medical treatment in America is a ‘major’ portion of our GNP. Providing complete cures for these four major diseases could destabilize our economy if introduced too quickly.
         8) When medical breakthroughs are finally realized, doctors take years to implement new procedures due to lack knowledge and training.

Does this sound like a Country focused on finding cures for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s to you? Or does this sound like someone more concerned with population control and protecting the economy than finding a cure? Then again, we may be just putting our heads in the sand and trying to blame our problems on others. Seems like that happens a lot.

If we really want to cure these diseases, we first need a reality check at the highest levels. We say we want a cure, but are we really ready to do whatever it takes to obtain it? I’m sure there are many ways to get to the same results. Problem is, we have been going backwards for too long and now the steps are becoming more difficult.

To find cure we need to begin with the cause.

In looking for a cure, wouldn’t determining the underlying causal conditions for these diseases be of prime importance so we could stop the disease pipeline from continually filling? According to the International Agency for Research in Cancer, 80-90% of cancer is environmentally caused and avoidable, yet only 10% of our research is focused on our environment and less than 1% of research is focused on diet. It is important to ask at this point… why? Knowing that our environment is largely providing the triggers for these diseases, why do we spend so little time making the necessary changes to prevent these diseases at their origin?

Sugar, fat, salt, GMO’s, pesticides, lack of exercise, lack of information, stress and more stress, it is no wonder that America is becoming sicker. In fact we spend more money on attempting to be healthy than any other country in the world yet are ranked only 37th, and at the bottom of the list for the World’s eleven wealthiest Nations. If we are to cure these diseases, we first must put a stop to their increasing occurrence. This will mean gradually changing the dietary and exercise habits of Americans. Not an easy task!

Every day we are bombarded by advertisements for junk food filled with sugar and empty carbs. You can’t leave your residence without being flooded with sugary images. There are few countermeasures to these hypnotic enticing ads and displays. If we truly wanted to heal America a good start would be to ban sugar. (Did you just cringe?) That simple act would drastically reduce the incidence of new disease and save the lives of so many more. But at this time banning sugar is not practical or even possible. So we need to begin the next best steps to modify America’s dietary habits. The following is a brief outline of my plan for helping America avoid the coming dark future.

Please review these 9 steps, and let me know what you think.

1) We start by subsidizing organic crops such as cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, and many other plants that have natural healing properties.

The goal is to have vegetables like organic kale at 50¢ a bunch and a six pack of soda pop at $5.00.

2) Then we decrease subsidizing crops harming America, thus forcing conversion to production of healthier foods.

The goal here is to bring healthy farm to table food to the forefront of people’s minds while making it the most affordable option.

3) Next we place an ‘empty calorie tax’ on foods and beverages that provide little to no nutritional value. This step is important!

Let’s face it sugars, sugary drinks and simple carbs are making America fat and sick. Overly sick people raise expenses and medical costs for all society. Sweets in strict moderation may be fine, but that hasn’t been the case. It’s time we began charging for the privilege of consuming all those unhealthy foods and beverages that are drawing down our Country.

4) We next use this new tax revenue to foster abundant public education forums and Public Service Announcements promoting the benefits of calorie dense, close to the farm, natural whole foods.

It is important here to note special interest food groups should have no part in deciding upon the nutritional suggestions as evidenced by our current increasing obesity and diabetes epidemics. Simply put, what we are doing now doesn’t work and it’s time to get the special interest groups out of the picture. If anyone desires, I could easily provide names of qualified nutritional specialists to assist with determining the best organic foods and advertising.  

These steps will gradually change America’s dietary habits. Next we need to improve the number of options we have available for potential cures.

5) To do this we government fund a new independent non-profit, tasked with evaluating ‘natural non-patentable’ substances for a cure. This organization will complete research as needed and submit their findings to the public, and to the FDA for approval. The good news is most of the potential healing substances are foods, spices and supplements already being used without FDA documentation, so they already have a somewhat positive track record and treatment history.

Immediate research for cancer could focus on such items as PectaSol-C®, PSP, PSK, Gamma Tocotrienol, Artemisinin with Transferrin, Black Seed Oil, EGCG with cayenne, Maitake MD Fraction, Melatonin, Marijuana with its THC and CBD, Thymogen, Progesterone, Thymoquinone, DIM and a broad range of other supplements and possibilities. 

6) We also allow, at a patient’s discretion, and provide financial coverage for, alternative cancer treatments currently available in other countries such as hyperthermia, SPDT, immunotherapy and proven immune modulators currently used abroad.

7) We expand Medicare approval for promising new cancer diagnostic and treatment protocols, and plug the loopholes that insurance companies use to avoid paying for beneficial procedures. For diagnostics, this list would immediately include insurance approval for Oncoblot, PHI, 4KScore, and CTC tests along with C-11 Choline and C-11 Acetate scans. For prostate cancer treatments this could include insurance approval for NanoKnife, and Focal Laser Ablation along with a few others.

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Just the ‘full implementation’ of the PHI, 4KScore and Oncoblot tests in relation to prostate cancer would relieve Americans of over 500,000 unnecessary prostate biopsies and save our Country around $1.5 Billion to $2 Billion per year. How’s that for a practical change. The problem is, most doctors do not know of, or currently perform, these tests. The tests are too new. Also, at this time there is little incentive for overworked doctors to change their procedures. Combine that with the fact many insurance companies are reluctant to pay for new tests thus making the tests unavailable to most Americans. Then there is the fact that these tests would greatly cut into biopsy revenue for many doctors and their facilities. You can now see the problem.

8) Then we create a more obvious way to update and train doctors in the latest protocols and breakthroughs so they implement them without delay.

9) And finally, we task our new non-profit, or another organization, with searching the world for successful existing treatment protocols, and when found fast-track these in a 6 month or less FDA approval program. Surely when another country has success we can use their research.

As a Prostate Cancer Survivor, Nutritional Health Coach, and Author of the book 'Release Prostate Cancer Now!', I believe if we are able to follow these recommendations, in 5 years we could dramatically improve the picture of disease in America and ease much of the medical financial burden our Country is facing. We could once again be the strong healthy country many desire. The choice is ours today. Are we willing to put aside our petty differences and focus on the real problems? If not today, then when? For without taking the steps for change we may be facing insurmountable financial, medical and National health challenges in the relatively near future.

1 comment:

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