HEALTH: The MS lesson

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently proclaimed that if certain changes to our health care system are enacted, people will die. Interesting, I also read about a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that in 70 percent of multiple sclerosis patients, the process of the disease could be stopped or even reversed.

I struggle to understand how, if we can cure or treat previously terminal diseases like MS, it is so important that we not make any changes to how we deliver health care. Except of course that Medicare and insurance won’t pay for the MS treatment. Or rather, they haven’t since the study was published in 1983. Yep. 1983. I remember several years later being in the race for the cure, never knowing that effective treatment had already been discovered.

Why is the MS treatment not being paid for by insurance and the government? Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of pharmaceutical lobbying. The treatment isn’t one that brings big profits to anyone, it is simply pressuring a person in oxygen. Because nobody gets rich off this treatment, it is blacklisted. It doesn’t matter that it works, it only matters if there is someone with money to lobby to push it as a cure or treatment, and thereby financially benefit.

Another example would be how Medicare requires a wound be treated if it won’t close and heal. First, antibiotics. Then more powerful antibiotics. Then, the most insanely expensive antibiotics available. If nothing else works, they prescribe hyperbaric oxygen therapy, because it works and costs almost nothing.

Good thing we have government to make sure we have great medical care, or we might actually get healthy! And that wouldn’t be good for the interests that matter in our system. If only the patient could be what matters, but we are going the other way…

LARRY SPENCER

Post Falls

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