AMA changes stance on Medical Marijuanna

Yesterday, the American Medical Association — the U.S.’s largest and most influential medical association — passed a new policy stance calling for a government review of marijuana’s legal status.

Marijuana is currently classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug, grouping marijuana with drugs like heroin, LSD, and PCP, which are deemed to have no accepted medical uses and considered unsafe for use even under medical supervision.

The AMA’s new policy “urges that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.” It goes on to explain that this position should not be construed as an endorsement of state medical marijuana programs.

This is a major shift from the AMA’s previous position, which recommended that marijuana be kept in Schedule I. What’s more, the AMA also rejected an attempt to urge doctors not to participate in state medical marijuana programs by recommending marijuana to their patients.

This shift, coming from America’s most cautious and conservative major medical organization, is historic. The AMA’s previous position was often cited by our opponents as evidence that medical marijuana’s utility was not widely accepted. This change will make the opposition’s argument significantly more difficult to make.

Since 2006, MPP has been instrumental in persuading medical organizations like the American College of Physicians to issue positions calling on the government to relax restrictions against medical marijuana — with the ultimate goal of persuading the AMA to do the same. Yesterday’s news is a big step toward that goal.

If you want to help us continue this work, we could really use your help. If you haven’t yet donated to MPP’s work this year, or if you can make an additional contribution, please visit our donation page today to help out.

Thanks for anything you can do to help us keep racking up the victories!

Sincerely,

Doctors reimbursement goes down if you opt out of the coming Electronic Health Records

Monday, October 05, 2009 By Christopher Neefus

(CNSNews.com) The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says that everyone can opt out of having an electronic health record included in the federally mandated national electronic-health-record system created by the stimulus law enacted in February.

The $787 billion economic stimulus bill, the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” signed into law by President Obama in February, calls for “the utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014.” The law says the records should include a person’s “medical history and problems list.”

The law also says the electronic health record (EHR) will become part of a “nationwide health information technology infrastructure,” accessible with authorization by health-care providers and the government.

To make certain this happens, the law provides for doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers to be given financial incentives to begin participating in the EHR system by 2014. Doctors, hospitals and health care providers that fail to make “meaningful use” of the system by 2015, the law says, will be penalized with reductions in their Medicare payments.

But individual Americans can opt to never have an EHR entered in the system, according to Dr. David Blumenthal, who is overseeing the development of the system as HHS’s national coordinator for health-care information technology.

“We want to make it clear that no one will ever have to use an electronic health record, if they don’t want to, and that when you do have electronic health records, they’ll have every conceivable privacy protection that is compatible with a useful health care system,” Blumenthal told CNSNews.com during a telephone news conference last Tuesday on EHRs with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. (Listen here.)

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D.-R.I.) recently told CNSNews.com that it would “totally be up to the individual” whether a doctor could list an abortion or an STD on their EHR. CNSNews.com asked Sebelius if that was the case, and whether patients could also prevent a mental illness or drug or alcohol abuse from being included on their EHR.

Blumenthal spoke up to respond to the question, saying that EHRs will be privacy-protected, that a committee is studying how to arrange the privacy protections, and that people will be able to completely opt out of having one.

“We are extremely sensitive to the need for privacy and security of information,” said Blumenthal. “It is one of our very top priorities. And we have, actually have a health-information technology policy committee of national experts. We held a hearing on this topic just 10 days ago. This very question came up. We’ve charged that committee with studying how to protect patient information and they’re going to be reporting back to us.

“We want to make it clear that no one will ever have to use an electronic health record, if they don’t want to, and that when you do have electronic health records, they’ll have every conceivable privacy protection that is compatible with a useful health-care system,” Blumenthal continued. “So, we’re going to wait to see what this panel reports back to us on in terms of the exact protections that we’re going to build in.”

Blumenthal was asked in a follow-up question to clarify if the EHRs were mandatory or voluntary.

“Let me say this again: No one will ever be forced to use an electronic health record if they don’t want to,” said Blumenthal. “This is always going to be between doctors and patients. Now–so, that’s a given and so that, by definition, makes them voluntary.”

Blumenthal did not say when the committee studying the privacy issue would complete its work, but indicated that the financial incentives for health-care providers to begin using EHRs do not begin for another year and a half. “We have a little bit of time,” he said.

As of Monday, Blumenthal’s office had not answered follow-up questions that CNSNews.com submitted last week. A spokesman for the press office indicated that it could take “up to two weeks” for the request to be considered by the agency’s press secretary.When CNSNews.com asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs last week whether the White House agreed with Rep. Kennedy that patients could opt out of having an abortion or certain diseases excluded from the ENR, the president’s spokesman said he had “no idea.”

“I’m not a health IT expert. I would direct you to somebody — I have no idea,” he said.
When CNSNews.com followed up, asking whether just the concept of allowing omissions from the EHR was a good idea.

“I’m not a health IT expert, so I apologize,” Gibbs asserted.

Transcript:

CNSNews.com: Our outlet spoke last week with Rep. Patrick Kennedy. And he told us that patients will actually be able to stop a doctor from including abortions or STDS in their medical history that will be part of the government-mandated electronic health record in the national record system. I am just wondering is that Secretary Sebelius’ understanding, that a patient would be able to stop such things from being recorded, and if that’s the case, could patients also prevent things like mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse from being recorded if they so desired?”

Blumenthal: “This is Dr. Blumenthal again. I think I will take I’ll take that question. We are extremely sensitive to the need for privacy and security of information. It is one of our very top priorities. And we have, actually have a health-information technology policy committee of national experts. We held a hearing on this topic just ten days ago. This very question came up. We’ve charged that committee with studying how to protect patient information and they’re going to be reporting back to us. We want to make it clear that no one will ever have to use an electronic health record, if they don’t want to, and that when you do have electronic health records, they’ll have every conceivable privacy protection that is compatible with a useful health-care system. So, we’re going to wait to see what this panel reports back to us on in terms of the exact protections that we’re going to build in.

CNSNews.com: Are electronic health records mandatory, or as you indicated, voluntary? Help me understand here.

Blumenthal: “Let me say this again: No one will ever be forced to use an electronic health record if they don’t want to. This is always going to be between doctors and patients. Now–So that’s a given and so that, by definition, makes them voluntary.”

CNSNews.com: And you talked about this panel. When will this privacy committee conclude with its work?

Blumenthal: We’re going to let them do a little bit of work and report back to us on how long it is going to take them. To be clear, the incentives that are associated with the adoption of electronic health records don’t go out for another year and a half. We have a little bit of time.

Physician Declaration of Independence from 3rd Party Payors

1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9
Tucson, AZ 85716-3450
Phone: (800) 635-1196
Hotline: (800) 419-4777
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943
Omnia pro aegroto

The Physicians’ Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one Profession to dissolve the Financial Arrangements which have connected them with Medicare, Medicaid, assorted Health Maintenance Organizations, and diverse Third Party Payers and to assume among the other Professions of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that the Physician’s primary responsibility is toward the Patient; that to assure the sanctity of this relationship, payment for service should be decided between Physician and Patient, and that, as in all transactions in a free society, this payment be mutually agreeable. Only such a Financial Arrangement will guarantee the highest level of Commitment and Service of the Physician to the Patient, restrain Outside Influence on Decision-Making, and assure that all information be kept strictly confidential. When a Third Party dictates payment for the Physician’s service, it exercises effective control over the Decision-Making of the Physician, which may not always be in the best interest of the Patient. The Third Party then intrudes heavily into the sacred Patient-Physician relationship and demands to inspect the Medical Record in a self-serving attempt to satisfy itself that its money is being spent in accordance with its own pre-ordained accounting principles.

The Financial Arrangements between Physicians and the Third Parties have become so destructive to the Patient-Physician relationship, and to the Medical Profession as a whole, that it is the Right, and Obligation, of the Members of the Profession to abolish them. Prudence will dictate that arrangements long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown, that Physicians are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right; it is their Duty, to throw off such arrangements, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of this Profession; and such is now the necessity that constrains them to alter their former Financial Arrangements. The history of the present system is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct effect the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over the Medical Profession. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

* The Tyranny began during the Second World War, when Companies, suffering under Wage and Price Controls, were forced to lure workers by offering Health Insurance Benefits. This benefit, in lieu of cash, received favorable tax treatment and was allowed to continue after the War, even with the removal of the Wage and Price Controls. This system created a strong incentive to use Medical Care and set the stage for massive Cost Inflation.

* Slowly, insurance changed into payment for all Medical Expenses, minus a small and shrinking Deductible, which led to further Inflation, and a call to control costs.

* The Government decreed that Employers must offer Employees the option of a Health Maintenance Organiz-ation. Thus were born the HMOs: Private Insurance Entities designed to ration Medical Care for their Members. These Organizations received Tax-favored treatment that allowed them to survive in spite of their horrendously flawed concept.

* The Government, in 1965, in its Infinite Wisdom and going far beyond its Powers as set out in the Constitution, decreed that the Poor and the Elderly should receive Health Benefits funded by the Taxpayer. Thus came into existence Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid, from the Conception, paid Physicians such a lowly wage that few participated, thereby creating a Two-Tiered System. Medicare payments to Physicians were initially fair and reasonable, and many Physicians participated in Medicare. Both Systems flooded the Medical Marketplace with Money, which fueled Inflation even more.

* Alarmed by the Medical Cost Inflation that it had engendered, the Government set out to restrain costs, principally by limiting fees to Physicians. These Price Controls had the effect of increasing Medical Inflation, as Volume of Services went up, and Quality went down.

* With each new round of Controls, Regulations and Paperwork multiplied many fold. This caused Physicians great Anguish, and took more time away from the Patients, with attendant loss of Quality and increase in Medical Inflation.

* Government policies continued to favor the HMO, in the hope they would tame Inflation. These Organizations skimmed Money off the Premiums as Profit, but which they called “Savings.” They spent less on Medical Care by denying or limiting access to Specialists, Procedures, Hospitals, and High Technology. Since this strategy mostly delayed care, it was ultimately more expensive. Thus did the Premiums again start to rise.

* The HMOs paid the Physician by Capitation; Physicians could stay profitable by having large numbers of Capitated Patients, which they would see rarely, if at all! There were other Financial Incentives to Physicians to limit their Patients’ access to Tertiary Care. These incentives set Patient against Physician, thus destroying this Sacred Trust.

* Remuneration for Physician services by the Government and the HMOs has dwindled to the point of Unprofitability and has compelled the Bankruptcy of increasing numbers of Practices, and the search for Other Sources of Income by Physicians. No other Profession in the United States is denied the ability to raise fees to cover increasing costs of doing Business.

* The Government, becoming increasingly desperate that all its strategies to control costs had failed (because they themselves were the cause of Cost Inflation!) resorted to Criminal Prosecutions of Individual Physicians and Hospitals for alleged Fraud. The Regulations being so Arcane and Vague, a simple Billing Error could be interpreted as Fraud. Most of those so pursued, being financially unable to defend themselves, simply capitulated and paid Huge Sums to the Government. Some were imprisoned.

* The Government passed a Massive Bill called HIPAA, which forced Doctors and Hospitals to spend billions to comply, with absolutely no positive impact on Patient Care.

* The Government passed a law called SGR which automatically lowers Physician Payment when total spending and volume increase, virtually assuring a downward spiral in Payments.

* The Government and HMOs now conspire to limit fees to Physicians by a diabolical machine known as “Payment for Performance,” based on “Practice Guidelines.” In addition to insulting our Ethic, this system will close the circle between the Central Payment for Care and the Central Prescription of Care. Thus do we completely lose our Professional Autonomy.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A System whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a Free Profession.

We, therefore, the undersigned Physicians of the United States of America, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name of our Patients solemnly publish and declare, that we will withdraw our participation in all above-described Third Party Payment Systems. Henceforth and Forever, we shall agree to provide our services directly to our Patients, and be compensated directly by them, in accordance with the ancient customs of our Profession. As has always been true of our Profession, our charges will be adjusted to reflect the Patients’ ability to render payment. Nothing prevents any patient from purchasing and using Insurance. The Patients’ medical interactions with us will remain completely confidential. We pledge the highest level of Service and Dedication to their Well-Being.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Richard Amerling, M.D., New York, NY, April 2009

Insurance is for Catastrophy only

Who’s body is that anyway?  Is that your body?

Or, does it belong to Medicare and your insurance companies?

If you said it is your body, why do you let a for profit corporation tell you how to take care of it?

I know, you’ve already paid for it and all, and you feel obligated to use something you already paid for right?

Let’s take a minute to look more closely at this 3rd party payer system.

All insurance policies are a gambling wager, you are paying a booky every month betting that something bad is going to happen.  Life insurance, auto insurance, fire insurance, all represent a fair bet in my opinion.  Small monthly nonrefundable nonaccruing bets that cover looses too large for your to pay for on your own.

But…

In health insurance the booky, (insurance company) has calculated the odds that you will get sick and sets your premiums in such a way that they will make a profit from this bet even if you get sick, and imagine the profits if you don’t get sick!

The booky wins BIG if nothing bad happens to you because your bet is none refundable and does not accrue over time, and the only way you can possibly win is by loosing your health. 

If you happen to win the bet and get a diagnosable disease, then the booky has to use some of your money to pay his friend the medical industry to treat your disease.  Notice I said disease, because the way the bet is set up, none of your wager can be used to improve your health, like a gym membership or wellness chiropractic care.  You can only collect your winnings if a doctor can submit a diagnosis disease code to the booky, who then is allowed  to regulate the payout according to his own judgement.

This entire system of gambling on something bad happening has created an even worse situation that has spread across our entire society.  This insane way of thinking is driving our entire nation into financial ruin and it is all because we have been trained to go about our business not giving our bodies a second thought, if something bad happens, the insurance will be there to pay to get you fixed.  This has robbed us of our personnal responsibility for the well beings of our own bodies.  This is a subtle form of slavery.  When someone else is impowered to make decisions regarding the wellbeing of your body, they are your master.

So, here is my suggestion.  Ask your employer to stop paying your insurance premiums and give that money directly to you.  Purchase a major medical insurance plan with as high a deductible as you think you can handle.  Personnally I have a $5,000.00 deductible and keep an unused credit card in the insurance file to cover this deductible should I ever need it.  That way I pay for my medical expenses after I use them and not placing expensive wagers I hope to never win.

Then, get busy learning how to improve the well being of your body.  By taking responsibility in this manner you will see a huge savings in premiums and even more important a sense of pride in your efforts to feel better all the time!