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The hydra of government in medicine

By Richard E. Ralston
web posted March 11, 2013

We value physicians for their ability to optimize the length and quality of our lives. They value treating and preventing illness, relieving pain and curing disease.

Yet the relationship between doctors and patients is increasingly under attack by a relentless government. A hydra-headed monster of multiple agencies at all levels is poisoning the practice of medicine. While Obamacare diverts our attention, another head rears toward our medical care.

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has, for years, subjected senior citizens (because they are more susceptible) to concentrated air pollutants, including diesel exhaust, ozone, soot and other particulate matter. This is in violation of, among other things, the Nuremberg Code, designed to protect us from Nazi-like experimentation on human subjects. When the American Tradition Institute challenged this in federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia, the EPA maintained that its practice of studying the health effects of toxic materials, using "controlled human exposure," was immune from judicial or other review under the Administrative Procedures Act.

The Antitrust Division of the Justice Department successfully prosecuted orthopedic physicians in Idaho for establishing fees for services. If a physician rejects government price control efforts--or worse yet, discusses fees with another physician--the Antitrust Division infers the existence of a conspiracy, because the Justice Department said "government prices are market prices," while prices determined by individual physicians are not. (Of course, it has been many years since there was a true free market for medical care.)

Simultaneously, government is destroying medicine on the state level, including cases of financial draining. Several years ago, a group of executives from medical research firms in California got together to create a stem cell agency via a ballot initiative funded by three billion dollars in government bonds.
They put themselves on the board and proceeded to hand out grants to each other in a frenzy of mutual back-scratching. They all understood that, unlike stockholder-funded research, government research never has to get results.

California requires anyone buying insurance to buy coverage for at least forty mandated services--thanks to contributions from the those who provide them--and forbids purchase of more affordable policies from firms in other states.
(Obamacare will soon add more coverage requirements to all state requirements.) It also forces unnecessary staffing and higher costs on otherwise inexpensive, walk-in health clinics in pharmacies.

Further, physicians may not take stem cells from a patient to treat the same patient without being prosecuted in court by the Food and Drug Administration  (FDA), which claims power to regulate your use of the chemicals produced by your body.

Meanwhile, the FDA prevents terminally ill patients from obtaining new drugs that have been judged safe but not yet deemed effective. Thousands die every year without drugs that are eventually approved and found to be useful in prolonging or saving lives.

Physicians may not accept payment from any patient over the age of 65 for treatment not covered by Medicare without being thrown out of the Medicare system. That means that any treatment not covered by Medicare is essentially forbidden, even if patients can afford it, or the doctor is constrained to provide treatment for free--in defiance of some bureaucrats’ judgment of what the patient needs.

The sword of Hercules is not going to slay this hydra. Only the right principles can save us: moral self-defense, individualism, our doctors’ freedom to practice medicine, and our own freedom to pursue our own happiness and health. ESR

Richard E. Ralston is the executive director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, Newport Beach, California. Copyright © 2013 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.






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