Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO discusses several essential elements to help the U.S. healthcare system survive and for people to experience wellness.

by Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO

It is all about politics these days.  And, while Senators McCain and Obama are talking about healthcare reform as part of their messages, the reform that they are advocating falls far short of what is needed.  The way that healthcare reform is discussed reminds me of the shell game – the shells, all identical, represent healthcare.  The game is simply to figure out where the funding is hiding.  Unfortunately, neither candidate has yet spoken about transforming healthcare itself – throw out the shells and replace them with something different.  And yet, this is the discussion that must be had in order to create truly sustainable healthcare.  While I don’t profess to have all of the answers, I will assert a few things.   In order for our healthcare system to survive and for the people of this country to experience wellness, there are several elements which are essential:

  • Healthcare must focus on disease prevention and health promotion
  • Healthcare must rely upon the inherent healing capacity within each individual and the lifestyle responsibilities attendant to that capacity
  • Healthcare must integrate all qualified provider types
  • Healthcare must encompass wellness programs
  • Healthcare must value and support the relationship between provider and patient

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to start a conversation amongst our policy makers about the nature of a sustainable system of healthcare with the goal being to transform healthcare in this country.  The time for this conversation is now, for if not now, when?  As providers, we see the toll that our current healthcare system has on our patients.  We hear our patients’ stories of disenfranchisement, sky-high healthcare costs, treatment restricted to symptom management.  We observe the seemingly epidemic prevalence of chronic disease and the absence of wellness.  We too feel the burden of our current healthcare system.  We struggle to make it financially viable to spend time with our patients, our medicine suffers under productivity pressures, and we have little leeway in deviating from standard disease management in our treatment.  As integrative health providers our unique perspective gives us the vision for how healthcare could be different.  With that vision, comes the responsibility to let our perspective guide us to taking action to change healthcare.  We must expand our advocacy for healthcare change beyond our work with patients.  We must help to inform and shape a new system of healthcare.   In order to begin this work, the first task is to call for a different conversation about healthcare transformation amongst our policy makers.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians has begun this call.  In August of this year, House Resolution 406 was introduced to the U.S. Congress.

“Expressing the sense of Congress that any effort to reengineer the health care system in the United States should incorporate sustainable wellness programs that address the underlying causal factors associated with chronic disease.”

Introduced in the House of Representatives, July 31, 2008, by Mr. Langevin (D-RI) and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

In the words of the Karen Howard, Executive Director of the AANP, “Congressman Langevin is the Co-chair of the House Disability Caucus and has a strong interest in create a new discussion around what health care can be in the future for the benefit of generations to come.  The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) introduced the idea of this legislation to the Congressman, having worked with his office for several years.  The intention is to garner enough support for passage, which normally requires a majority of the Congress signing on as co-sponsors.  A Senate companion resolution will also be introduced.  This resolution is not specific to any practitioner type, industry or special interest.  It is a resolution that is designed to serve the interests of every person, company, and government struggling with the costs and suffering of chronic disease.   It is also a non-partisan initiative.”

HR 406 stresses the criticality of prevention and wellness programs and recognizes the need to support the capacity for health which is inherent in each individual.  To see the full resolution, click here: HR 406. As integrative healthcare practitioners, it is in our, and our patients’, best interests to support this resolution.  I ask that you join the efforts of many integrative medicine organizations and practitioners and lend your voice of support.  Ask your Representative in Congress to sign on as a co-sponsor of HR 406.  To make this ask, simply click on this link: Once you are on that page, click: Sustainable wellness in Congress, let’s pass legislation to make the difference.  From there, it will take you about 1 to 2 minutes to send a pre-written message to your Representative.

As we work to transform our individual practices, let us also work to transform the landscape of healthcare in this country.

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