Andrew Weil is the voice of sanity in health care reform.
Alison Rose Levy
Health journalist Alison Rose Levy, MA serves as Media Director of Friends
of Health. See full bio
Health Care by Soundbyte by Alison Rose Levy
I've always had trouble picturing the decline of Rome. Why would the Roman
people get distracted by a mean-spirited and meaningless circus? At what
stage of a civilization do cheap thrills become the best option?
Unfortunately, nowadays, I don't have to crack a history book to get that
If media outlets, pundits, and commentators were seriously concerned about
the health of Americans, why after the President's speech, would media
coverage land upon a single word shouted by an idiot--rather than the
substantive realities of American health care reform?
Of course, I know. The circus is far more entertaining than what you, I, and
our loved ones will suffer due to the health care quagmire. It's easier to
fixate on a sound byte than to address a complex reality. Too bad for us and
Fortunately, Andrew Weil offered a voice of sanity on Larry King show. King
joked about the title of Weil's just published book, ³Why Our Health
Matters² asking: Isn't it obvious why our health matters?
Is it? Do we act as if health is primary?
Given all the ways Weil revealed in which American health care is off the
rails, I really have to wonder:
Can we take it for granted that health really matters to Americans -- when
? Allow a thousands year old healing art to be co-opted and turned into an
industry accountable for bottom line profits, not health?
? Permit that industry to make profits higher than any other commodity in
our society, while people go bankrupt and their health suffers--even after
we watched other unregulated industries topple our economy?
? Stand by as that industry donates millions of dollars to legislators to
buy legislation that governs health care--and then fear
<http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/fear> executive branch leadership
<http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/leadership> that tries to restore
programs for the public good?
? Okay direct to consumer
<http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/consumer-behavior> drug advertising
so that most TV show push drugs
? Hope that media reporting is honest when it's paid for by drug
? Believe that scientific studies published in medical journals are
scientific even when those journals are paid for by industry advertising--as
is much of the research itself?
? Look on in confusion as health care politics degenerates into a talking
point mud wrestle?
? Irrationally believe that doctors like Weil who recommend prevention and
health promotion stand opposed to insurance coverage--even though he and
other integrative doctors have repeatedly supported universal coverage?
? Are so health disempowered that any suggestion to take better care of our
health in the basic ways available to us-- evokes a terrible two's response
in so many?
Americans pay lip service to health. But we all too easily get diverted by a
media circus--and any old fear-mongering PR campaign can throw us off
course. We'll vote against our own self-interest based on a meaningless
slogan or the color of someone's tie. We'll jump on board to comment on the
latest media frisson, but ignore the fundamental realities of health care
and health economics. We believe in a myth (American health care is number
one) and ignore the reality--we rank with the Serbians. We overlook basic
ways to preserve health and then scream for drugs. We trust high tech
services and distrust healthy foods and the gifts of nature. Are we getting
the health care we deserve?
On Larry King and in his terrific book, Why Our Health Matters, Weil's is
the most responsible voice in this debate. He is asking that people be
responsible, that legislators be responsible, and that health industries be
responsible to the people they serve-- not to executive profit. Yet some
view his frank look at how to lower costs as a frilly add-on-- rather than a
far-sighted, strategic, and systemic way to save our collective butts.
A true solution won't give you an adrenaline rush like the latest media
fracas, but we need to do what Weil recommends as the three ways to assure
better health care at lower cost:
1. Build some form of government sponsored plan to create leverage to lower
insurance rates and negotiate favorable pricing on standard medical care
2. Lower health costs through the lifestyle/preventive measures
3. Assure that both government and private programs enact health promoting
policies across the board
If your health matters to you, I highly recommend that you read Weil's new
We'll get the health care that has been imposed upon us, until we rise up,
take responsibility and demand the health care we deserve.
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