Friday, March 19, 2010

Two Visions of Healthcare: One Political, One Medical. Unfortunately, Obamacare Beats Out Treatment for Tremors and Epilepsy.

Last night on ABC World News, we saw, once again, the divide between two visions of healthcare. One, healthcare as a political football, and two, healthcare as a life-enhancing, even life-saving undertaking of doctors and scientists.

Alas, the politicos got top billing. Diane Sawyer led the newscast with a live report from Jon Karl, on the vote count for Obamacare. All the discussion, of course, was about the politics of Obamacare, whether or not it has the votes. And for all the talk of "healthcare," not a word about health.

And then, 20 minutes into Thursday night's broadcast, ABC News' medical editor,Dr. Richard Besser, introduced a beautiful story of a medical miracle taking place in Minnesota, where Roger Frisch, a concert violinist with the Minneapolis Orchestra, has had his ability to play the violin restored to him. As Besser explained, "essential tremors," based on faulty brain activity, cause tremors in one-seventh of senior citizens, or 10 million Americans nationwide. And so doctors at the Mayo Clinic conducted deep brain stimulus surgery, drilling holes in Frisch's head, allowing electrodes to thwart the tremors. Not an ideal solution, of course--medicine is better, when it works--but the therapy has restored Frisch's ability to play the violin--see screen grab above. And, Dr. Besser added, a similar procedure--the use of a pacemaker-like device for the brain--developed at Stanford can dramatically reduce epileptic seizures.

So which is more important to our ultimate health? An insurance card that says we can visit a doctor--or a cure from that same doctor?

And yet if the healthcare bill passes, and policymakers decide to really "bend the curve," on healthcare costs, will procedures such as the one Dr. Besser described be judged as too expensive? How will the Congressional Budget Office score the gift of a life restored? If it doesn't score positively, according to CBO metrics, then chances are, we will see a lot fewer of these sort of heroic medical interventions, no matter how successful they are.

But of course, such concerns will be lost amidst the high-five-ing to come in Washington DC, if the bill passes. Why worry about brain disorders and epilepsy when you can ration care?


  1. It's more than Medicine Jim.
    It’s all about politics & power. Uncle Sam will be able to soon say, "I own 17% of the economy in Med. & 50% of US Autos. With a couple more leaps & bounds, since I already have the Defense Industry & am the largest bureaucratic employer, then I’ll be like what China & USSR were 20 yrs. ago, a Socialist state. Goodbye Capitalism!"
    Now all I will have to figure out is what country to immigrate to to find a job, unless of course I lay back on the dole and wait for the wealth to redistribute with the printing of the 21st century’s version of “1923 deutschmark” dollars! :-(

  2. After thought:
    I always thought that a military coup might overthrow the US Government. Now I realize it’s the Legislative Branch doing the “coup d'etat.” Go figure?


    US Representative District Office Capitol Hill Office
    Adler, John (732) 608-7235 (202) 225-4765
    Altmire, Jason (724) 378-0928 (202) 225-2565
    Baird, Brian (360) 352-9768 (202) 225-3536
    Berry, Marion (870) 972-4600 (202) 225-4076
    Boucher, Rick (540) 628-1145 (202) 225-3861
    Carney, Christopher (570) 585-9988 (202) 225-3731
    Chandler, Ben (859) 219-1366 (202) 225-4706
    Dahlkemper, Kathy (814) 456-2038 (202) 225-5406
    Driehaus, Steve (513) 684-2723 (202) 225-2216
    Ellsworth, Brad (812) 465-6484 (202) 225-4636
    Foster, Bill (630) 406-1114 (202) 225-2976
    Giffords, Gabrielle (520) 881-3588 (202) 225-2542
    Gordon, Bart (615) 896-1986 (202) 225-4231
    Hill, Baron (812) 336-3000 (202) 225-5315
    Kilroy, Mary Jo (614) 294-2196 (202) 225-2015
    Murphy, Patrick (215) 826-1963 (202) 225-4276
    Nye, Glenn (757) 789-5092 (202) 225-4215
    Perriello, Tom (434) 293-9631 (202) 225-4711
    Pomeroy, Earl (701) 235-9760 (202) 225-2611
    Salazar, John (719) 543-8200 (202) 225-4761
    Schauer, Mark (517) 780-9075 (202) 225-6276
    Space, Zack (740) 779-1636 (202) 225-6265
    Teague, Harry (575) 622-4178 (202) 225-2365
    Wilson, Charlie (740) 533-9423 (202) 225-5705

  4. James Pinkerton has consistently made the point on this site that if Obamacare goes forward, our treatment will be rationed and searches for a cure will be financially curtailed. He is absolutely correct and I will go further. I watched one of our high profile news anchors tonight rattle off all the window dressing lures the Democrats added to the Bill. Apparently our kids will be insured until 26, no pre-existing conditions considered and much more displayed to get you on board. The anchor left out the fact that our working American Medical System will crumble with half our doctors going elsewhere. The anchor did not mention that because urology, gastro intestinal surveillance and breast cancer research will be cut back, the American life span will be shortened. Repercussions as we experienced in every government program furthered so far are not discussed as continuing here by the MSM. The Democrats sell the sizzle but not the steak. Do you really know for sure how all of this is going to turn out?

  5. Well there can never be unity among political and medical process for sure.

  6. I always thought that a military coup might overthrow the US Government....nice facts made....amazing...

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  8. This video expresses every details.This is really incredible one I must say.

  9. And so doctors at the Mayo Clinic conducted deep brain stimulus surgery..

  10. the use of a pacemaker-like device for the brain--developed at Stanford can dramatically reduce epileptic seizures.

  11. Its really nice of you to write about healthcare because everyone should be informed about this.

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