Health care insurance reform


Your local actions create the future;

Locally, though receiving little press, Maryland midwives are fighting for their right to exist. Over the last few years there has been a nation-wide effort by the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) to take away the rights of CPM’s to attend births resulting in more than a few local seasoned midwives to have charges brought against them for practicing medicine without a license. These wise women are being terrorized for practicing their livelihood, and are in fact threatened with loosing their ability to practice and provide this sacred work to mother’s to be.

Regardless of whether or not you would consider the services of a midwife to support you in your own life, increasing numbers of women, as they become educated about the effects of medicalized childbirth on their own health and that of their newborn, are seeking out the support of these women. The World Health Organization supports midwifery as the most sensible choice to insure best outcomes for mother’s and babies. In fact, 26 states already license CPM’s to attend home births. Our state government, spurred on by ACOG, is seeking to limit the choices women have to give birth.

As a woman who supports women in rebuilding their health and along with it, their sense of being empowered persons, I urge you to sign the petition on the site; Maryland Families for Safe Birth Petition. And if so inspired, please write your legislators as well, at  Maryland Families for Safe Birth. This is an opportunity to shape the future by supporting empowered births, empowered women, and consequently their families. YOU!

With love, Angela

The following is something that is not well edited, nor complete in it’s aim. I just had to get this out, as my heart and brain were screaming. I will begin with the caveat that I do appreciate western medicine in times of crises, so I am not bashing allopathic medicine….but critiquing inappropriate and corrupt application. Comments are welcome.

My mind these days keeps wandering back to the book “Woman as Healer”, by Jeanne Achterberg. As well-researched, well-funded interests spin the mass-media they own to be champions of the very few, while less well financially resourced communities are forced to their knees, circumspect reflection raises questions. The fundamental question is what is driving this distortion of what is Real? Fear of being annihilated, of course. Annihilation of wealth and lifestyle, and of their very existence. Ironically, this very fear that is motivating the most unscrupulous, heartless behavior on massive scale, is the unhealed wound that will ultimately topple them. History has shown again and again and again, that actions by a privileged class motivated by fear of the populations their wealth is generated from ultimately destroys the privileged class. It is tragic, to say the least, that the vast amounts of soul healing resources and good will available to heal this fear, is, itself demonized.

This fear of lack, ironically, seeks to ensure a lavish lifestyle for the very few, devoid of a sense of collective responsibility, at ultimate cost to countless others and the very earth that supports humanities, and indeed, many other creatures’ ability to exist. Well-researched and well-funded interests have created what is known in our times as Spin Doctors. Spin Doctors are paid to pit one segment of society against the other to benefit the interests of their Multinational Corporate Financiers.  These individuals and corporate “personhoods“, otherwise, and in other circles, known as hoodlums , without conscience, construct scenarios, manipulate language to create mistrust, fear of other, and foster strife for profit.

I’ve just returned from a meeting in Baltimore of Maryland for Midwives. Now, some of you might think at this point: oh, this doesn’t concern me. Think again. Suppose you had an emergency at home and an EMT were called. They came, tended to you, and advised you that in their estimation, you should allow them to take you to the hospital. You feel the situation has been resolved, and refuse to go. If at this point they were to cart you off to the hospital anyway, against your wishes, that would be kidnapping.

Now, suppose you are a woman about to give birth. You chose to give birth at home.  All the medical/insurance personnel insist you give birth at hospital or you won’t be covered by your insurance, or they will refuse to treat you, against your free will.  After all, women since the beginning of time, have always given birth at home, or in the field, or wherever. What’s the difference?

Some of you may know of the home birth midwife who was charged with and convicted of a felony earlier this year? She was put in jail for a week, without being tried. She was brought into the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit and shackles on her wrists and ankles. Doctors have had many babies and mothers die. Does this ever happen to them? The numbers show that hospital mortality rates for infants and mothers are way above those for home birth midwives.

Last week I heard through a doula client of mine that another beloved veteran, home birth midwife has had her license revoked. Today I have heard of a third. All in practice for many, many years. All the student home birth midwives I know are terrified to practice now, as things stand. Make no  mistake, there is a “witch hunt” going on, designed to take this option off the table for families who want it. It is the single most empowering right of passage a woman goes through. Back to my first sentence, where I mention the book “Woman as Healer”. History shows that in desperate economic times women are persecuted, excluded and prosecuted for sharing what they know, for supporting those who value their knowledge and wisdom. We are in those times again. It is time to look at your choices people. Who and what are you supporting by where you choose to spend your dollars? Are you aware that you pay for “health insurance”. It comes out of your pay. Where does it go? Does it support the people with whom you trust your health, your child’s health?

The health care reform bill has passed and many people will be celebrating that, finally, the United States will work to assure every citizen health insurance that cannot be canceled because you change your job, because you get sick, or for any other reason.

Those of us who believe in preventive health care, integrated health care, functional medicine, and complementary and alternative medicine have special reasons to celebrate. This bill has provisions that explicitly support these approaches to health care. One of these is the creation of a National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council, which I testified about before the Senate last February.

The Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) was created in 2002 and has been quietly working on Capitol Hill to bring about the kinds of changes in health care that we all want. Last month, I was in New York presenting at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium and I was on a panel with IHPC’s executive director, Dr. Janet Kahn. When I heard her describe what IHPC has been doing about health care reform and the things that are lying quietly in this bill, I got very excited about their work and what is to come in 2010.

Dr. Kahn explained 3 major aspects of this bill that IHPC helped shape.

1. Due to Kahn’s work with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the definition of the healthcare workforce was amended so that it now officially includes, “licensed complementary and alternative medicine providers and integrative healthcare practitioners.”

2. IHPC was a collaborator on the creation of the Wellness Initiative for the Nation (WIN), a document that prompted the inclusion of the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council that I mentioned above. Truly remarkable.

3. And third, IHPC worked hard to have the Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research in the bill. This will allow functional medicine approaches to be evaluated toe to toe with conventional medicine.

And there will be more. As Kahn so clearly told the audience in New York, this health care reform bill is just the beginning. It contains toeholds from which we climb toward what we really want – a nation that really understands how to help people live healthy lives and that supports the availability of many different pathways to healing.

I often say that I practice functional medicine because it tackles and fixes the underlying causes of health problems and doesn’t paper over the symptoms as so much of conventional medicine does. That is exactly IHPC’s approach to health care reform. IHPC is about reforming the very architecture of American health care.

Mark Hyman, M.D.

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