The numerous columns I wrote over a five-year period for the Green Valley News focused on the fraud and abuse in our health care system, along with analyzing the bad ideas (of politicians and special interests) in formulating a health care system.
It’s interesting that we now have hard evidence of the failures of these ideas.
One interesting fact that has not been reported involves the idea that increasing Medicaid would clearly lower inappropriate emergency room visits and the expense these visits cost the public. We would save money.
Oregon decided to prove this in 2009. It vastly increased the number of residents eligible for Medicaid. Unfortunately, the state didn’t have the funds to pay for this, so they put a lottery in place. Half the people eligible were given Medicaid while the other half became a “control group.” This was a scientifically perfect, randomized experiment.
The results? Two years later, the covered group had a 40 percent increase in unnecessary ER use. When a social experiment doesn’t work, the usual excuse of “we didn’t fund it enough — we need more money” wasn’t applicable. The next excuse, “The newly enrolled didn’t have time to get used to the system so they didn’t attempt to make (free) appointments with their doctors.” Two years later, a follow-up study was done. Surprise! The increase in unnecessary ER rose dramatically. The only news organization that reported this was NPR.
This was just one small example of how the philosophical ideas that went into Obamacare were not rooted in historical example or knowledge of human nature. I have written a column discussing how in the 1990s, a study in Chicago demonstrated that unnecessary ER visits were not related to the lack of availability of outpatient services but rather to personal preferences.
I doubt anyone involved reviewed any information.
Rather than bringing up the failures of Obamacare, there is a whole new area, and in many ways more important than the financial story.
I plan on writing about the 37 years of medical and scientific research fraud and purposeful misinformation that has caused many (estimated in the millions) of deaths.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, a Medical researcher in the field of cardiology named John Darsee, MD, published a large number of well-regarded papers, many in the New England Journal of Medicine, with the most renowned author in the field, Eugene Braunwald of Harvard. Fifty-three papers and chapters in the books like Braunwald’s “Heart Disease,” the standard text in the field, were written by the young Dr. Darsee over 14 years. His research was fraudulent.
It wasn’t uncovered by all the checks and balances the medical community were proud of. Rather, a cardiologist reading a Darsee paper noticed something that couldn’t possibly be true. Unpublishing years of papers and books had to be done.
The long- time editor of the New England Journal, Arnold S. Relman, MD, the man who set the standard for medical publishing, did something unheard of. He wrote an apology describing how he and the entire publishing community and the peer-review process had failed. But he admitted that research fraud is almost impossible tho detect.
How many other cases were there of widespread fraud before Darsee existed?
Since then, the examples of known fraud, which I will show killed people, have become rampant.
The former longtime editor of the Journal, Marcia Angell, MD, who replaced Dr. Relman, resigned and wrote books and editorials on this subject.
The editor in chief of the oldest medical journal, Lancet, Richard Horton, MD wrote: “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.”
It’s not some small-town retired physician who is bringing up a baseless conspiracy.
It’s the top names trying to bring up a very important subject. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry, those in the medical industry, (mostly highly regarded physicians), as well as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (I will discuss how he as attorney general of Connecticut tried to put the Infectious Disease Society of America out of business for publishing guidelines that disputed the lucrative methods of a small group of questionable physicians who supported him), have done their best to undermine honesty.
In my next column, I’ll discuss how 9,000 poor, black African women were subject to unnecessary, life-threatening surgeries because of the fabrication of data about breast cancer treatment. And many died.
Charles Barta, a former Green Valley resident, retired after 10 years as a medical director for several health care insurers. Before that, he was physician-in-charge of Kaiser Permanente of Colorado and a private internist in Las Cruces, N.M. He had previously held a management position in the Medical Systems Division of Pfizer. He now lives in Colorado and can be reached at Cbar52@aol.com.