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Policies Needed for Emerging Health Care Issues

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One nearly invisible aspect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act discussion is the role that an integrated approach to medical modalities will play in the implementation of the health insurance mandate beginning January 2014.

As one who follows this discussion, I’m encouraged by the prevalent positive reports on the effectiveness of these therapies and their growing use by the public. A recent policy review of the data indicates that traditional medical practitioners are beginning to include the use of integrative medicines, which include alternative and complementary therapies. While I and many others have found using prayer alone for treatment very effective, prayer and other non-traditional approaches appear especially useful when fostering happiness, decreasing stress, and increasing longevity – just to name a few.



While these methods can be effective, some methods used in prevention and assessment for early disease detection are being judged overall as ineffective, expensive, and in some cases counter-productive. The surge on the part of the public in the use of alternative therapies – paying for them out of pocket (estimated at $34 billion per year) – indicates a need to provide professional guidance as well as support for what the public is demanding.

To hear firsthand more about alternative health care policy, I joined a large group of interested citizens at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica. Drs. Jan Coulter, David Eisenberg, and Wayne Jonas have worked in this area for 25 to 30 years and have been involved in almost every major study concerning this topic. These knowledgeable and experienced individuals were able to bring a sense of balance to an unwieldy and undefined area of integrative health care.

In defining integrative and complementary medicines, Dr. Eisenberg admitted that it is a linguistic challenge. However, he did supply a friend’s definition: medicines which were used routinely and which were needed to stay well, yet about which he was not comfortable talking with his oncologist. More simply, integrative medicines are typically those medicines one pays for out of one’s own pocket because insurance doesn’t cover them.

Dr. Jonas spoke eloquently about the need for scientific evidence (not anecdotal), and said that policies should be based on this evidence. When the question was raised about science not being able to measure this type of evidence, he was quick to respond that science is going to need to “rise to the occasion.”

The policy issues are many, but clearly there is growth in the public’s use of integrative health care, alternative medicine, and complementary therapies, and the public’s voice should be heard in any policy considerations.

How do we create policies guiding this development, which allow for this input? The present implementation of the ACA does not consider this input a priority.

With the public spending over $34 billion a year on complementary and alternative therapies, now seems the right time to provide a health care system that includes them.

photo by Ky Olsen

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About Don Ingwerson

Previously in the education sector as Superintendent of Schools, Don Ingwerson now serves as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Southern California and corrects misconceptions about Christian Science. Don is a frequent blogger about health and spirituality.
  • Dr. Joseph S. Maresca

    The Journal of the Lancet is considered to be the gold standard for medical reporting in the alternative or complementary medicine area. In addition, Burton Goldberg MD is considered a pioneer in the research in this area with the publication of his book Alternative Medicine-The Definitive Guide. Dr. Goldberg’s research includes many peer-reviewed journal articles in virtually every area of alternative medicine.

    If rule structures become problematic, Obamacare can simply leave the judgments on medical care protocols to the experts; namely, the professionals in charge of delivering the medical care. There are a plethora of professional licensees practicing in alternative medicine in areas; such as, acupuncture, osteopathic medicine, colon cleansing and many other important areas of health care delivery.

    No-one really talks about the 800 pound gorilla in the room; namely, the junk food manufacturers who precipitate the need for more health care by feeding the public a constant stream of bad food. This food is loaded with a lot of sugar and inorganic additives. Cut out the bad food and the cost of health care should go down significantly due to smaller queues or waiting lines at medical care facilities.

  • Careful

    Junk food they want to police and the junk drugs they don’t unless you don’t buy them. I’m not saying I’m for junk food they make esterols in the labs for artifical flavors and esters are similar to cyanide. Additives to food are not policed instead they want to police the consumers who can’t afford the natural flavored foods. Enforcing laws through extortion of costs in not an alternative to poison. When the people vote in a law the states turn it into their cause for revenue to keep prices so high it is out of reach as to no avail.

  • Dr. Joseph S. Maresca

    That’s why President Truman’s Administration introduced the Victory Gardens- to get people integrally involved with growing their own food. The consequence of growing your own food on farms and in neighborhoods is to bring down the price of natural food. Just plain tap water is virtually free, as opposed to sugary sodas. I’ve seen people rack up several hundred dollars at the supermarket and spend very little on actual food.

  • Igor

    Sorry, “Dr.” Maresca (you aren’t really a medical doctor, are you?), Truman had nothing to do with Victory Gardens. They had existed even in WW1 and were reinvigorated by FDR. Eleanor Roosevelt even planted a Victory Garden at the Whitehouse. I myself raised radishes and carrots during WW2 in the Victory Garden my parents created by tearing up the backyard. The government gave us a special wooden marker to identify the garden.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Owwwww…THAT, people is a “Lloyd Bentsen moment”, as in “I knew John Kennedy, and you, sir, are no John Kennedy”.