There has been a lot of criticism of Obamacare, and the GOP is still committed to eliminating it if they can. A few doctors have seen major benefits from Obamacare, including those living in economically depressed areas and those that are focused on disease prevention. Dean Ornish, MD has spent 35 years doing preventative medicine research, with peer reviewed documented results in curing diseases that many doctors consider to be incurable.
Crystal Phend, Senior Associate Editor of MedPage Today published an article on April 13, 2016 titled “Opinion Makers: Lifestyle Medicine Meets Obamacare.” Dr. Ornish has worked at the Preventative Medicine Research Institute to show how changes in lifestyle and diet can prevent diseases, and how these changes can reverse diseases down to the cellular level.
The focus of many medical practitioners is to find the right combination of pills, and surgery if considered necessary, to eliminate the symptoms of diseases like cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and to cure or delay the effects of cancer. Many of these treatments have drastic side effects that require pills to reduce the adverse effects of other pills, with chemotherapy being the extreme case.
Dr. Ornish has found the preventative program aspects of Obamacare to be very useful in maintaining health and improving the outcomes after a major critical event. His philosophy is that lifestyle changes can treat and often reverse diseases.
We all know that lifestyle factors play a role in helping to prevent disease. But lifestyle medicine is about using lifestyle interventions to treat disease, and often to reverse it, either in combinations with drugs and surgery, or often as an alternative to them.
Obamacare has changed the incentives to doctors for preventing disease versus hospitalization, surgery, and drugs to try to cure diseases. Early lifestyle intervention to prevent diseases is far more cost effective than trying to cure diseases that could have been prevented. Type II diabetes is an excellent example of prevention through lifestyle changes versus managing diabetes through drugs. The side effects of diabetes, including heart disease, blindness, loss of limbs, and recurring infections are hugely expensive when compared to early intervention.
Dr. Ornish was a part of the first lifestyle medicine conference of the American College of Cardiologists (ACC). He is suggesting diet as an alternative to drugs for cardiac disease patients. Many doctors feel that patients are more likely to take statins to control cholesterol instead of altering their diet and regular exercise programs. One half to two thirds of the people stop taking statins after six months.
Dr. Ornish’s lifestyle program has 80 to 90% of the participants following the program a year after starting the program. A video that summarizes Dr. Ornish’s approach explains that his focus is on the joy of feeling better instead of threats of dying.
Dr. Ornish’s summary of how Obamacare is impacting medicine shows an optimistic outlook for disease prevention.
And as we move into the era of Obamacare, whatever people think about it, it’s really turning all the incentives on their ear. In a fee-for-service environment, the more operations and drugs and hospitalizations, the more revenue is generated. But in the bundled payments of accountable care organizations and integrated delivery networks, there’s ‘X’ amount of dollars to take care of somebody and you get to keep what’s left over: The fewer procedures, the more revenue that’s generated. And Medicare is now covering our program for reversing heart disease and others like it, and so it’s really creating a new sustainable model that allows physicians to provide people the information and the time that they need in order to make sustainable changes. It’s a whole new era, and it’s one that I find terribly exciting.
Disease prevention through diet, exercise, stress management and emotional well-being are superior to drugs, surgery and, in the case of cancer, radiation. Invest time to maintain your health every day. It has been proven superior to all cures.