THE NATURAL LAW PARTY is committed to ensuring a long and healthy life for every American. By bringing life into accord with natural law, the prevention-oriented health programs proposed by the Natural Law Party will significantly reduce disease and promote the health and vitality of all Americans. As our nations health improves, we can lift the massive burden of health care costs, thus freeing our nation's resources for greater progress and prosperity.
America spends more on health care than any other nation . Yet Americans endure some of the poorest health of any developed nation .
Why is the U.S. medical system such a cost-effectiveness disaster? The answer is that our health care system is really a disease care system -- it focuses on the management of illnesses, rather than on the prevention of disease and the promotion of health. But the vast majority of our national health is influenced by factors over which this disease-based approach has little control -- such as nutrition, stress, societal problems, and environmental toxins. Consequently, in the absence of effective prevention, our present disease care system can never create a truly healthy society.
Recent research shows that at least 50% of deaths and 70% of disease in America are self-inflicted -- caused by an epidemic of unhealthy habits, including improper diet, inadequate exercise, smoking, and alcohol abuse . Thus, the vast majority of disease is preventable . Yet we spend less than 1% of our health sector budget on prevention.
Incredibly, Republicans and Democrats consistently ignore proven prevention-oriented approaches to health, and Medicare specifically bans funding for most preventive services . Following the federal example, most private health insurance companies also refuse to cover prevention. No health care reform bills debated in Congress have focused on improving health; they have dealt only with problems in disease-care financing and delivery, hoping to save money by streamlining and downsizing the system.
Spiraling health care costs have dramatically increased the cost of health insurance, and at least 40% of U.S. citizens are now inadequately covered or have no medical insurance. Health care expenditures have also placed a heavy burden on American businesses; if employee insurance costs continue to rise, many companies will face insolvency.
The Natural Law Party supports cost-effective, prevention-oriented health care, proven to prevent disease and save money in the best possible way -- by keeping people healthy. By focusing on the prevention of disease and the promotion of health, the Natural Law Party offers a solution to the health care crisis that is comprehensive, cost-effective, and scientifically proven.
Our health care platform has two aspects.
- We support health strategies that focus on prevention and strengthen the general health of the nation, thereby shifting our national focus from disease care to health care. These programs include prevention-oriented health education, including strategies to modify unhealthy behaviors, and prevention-oriented natural medicines. These preventive strategies have been shown by extensive research to create healthier citizens and to cut health care costs by 50% to 70%.
- We support the introduction of financial incentives that will help prevent abuse of the health care system and ensure high-quality care. These incentives include (a) medical savings accounts for Medicare and Medicaid subscribers, which will provide financial rewards for good health ; and (b) vouchers enabling Medicare and Medicaid subscribers to choose any insurance plan or health care provider they desire, thereby promoting competitive costs and quality of care among medical providers. Such financial incentives will reduce demands for unnecessary care and prevent overuse of the health care system by giving greater financial control and responsibility to individual subscribers.
Through our two-pronged approach of preventive health care and financial incentives, we can rescue Medicare and Medicaid from bankruptcy, save the nation approximately $500 billion a year in health care costs, and prevent untold pain and suffering.
To structure meaningful health-benefits options for all Americans without disastrously increasing the federal budget deficit, we must responsibly decrease health care outlays per person -- a particular challenge as the population ages. The most effective and humane way to achieve this goal is to prevent disease in the first place by strengthening the human immune system and eliminating the imbalances that ultimately cause disease.
The prevention programs supported by the Natural Law Party incorporate the most up-to-date knowledge of nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction, as well as the use of natural herbal preparations, natural dietary supplements, and alternative medical treatment modalities. Americans favor such approaches. There are now more visits to alternative medicine practitioners than to conventional doctors . Research has consistently shown that the prevention programs endorsed by the Natural Law Party significantly reduce the need for conventional medical treatment by empowering individuals to take better care of their own health .
Our national health care debate has degenerated into an argument over who should pay for whose disease, with little attention given to preventing disease and improving health. Funding for proven prevention services has been denied to Americans, largely because the lobbying influence of over 1,000 medical PACs (political action committees) has shaped legislation and preserved the status quo .
The Natural Law Party, which does not accept PAC contributions, is committed to changing this unethical and inhumane situation. Dr. John Hagelin, the Natural Law Party's candidate for president in 1992, 1996, and 2000, has worked closely with the U.S. Congress for the past decade to introduce wording into health care bills in both the House and the Senate that would provide coverage for any scientifically verified, cost-effective, proven preventive program. He spearheaded the formation of the largest bipartisan congressional caucus, dedicated to scientifically proven, prevention-oriented solutions in health care and other critical public policy areas. The Natural Law Party's prevention-oriented approach has such commonsense appeal that it has gained the support of conservative and liberal members of Congress alike.
The Natural Law Partys approach to health care provides a unifying influence in the political debate by transcending surface bickering over money and solving the health crisis at its basis -- by improving the health of Americans. The enormous savings generated by the Natural Law Partys prevention-oriented programs, coupled with the financial incentives created by medical vouchers and savings accounts, will allow the government to realistically finance medical coverage for the 46 million Americans who are currently uninsured.
The programs of preventive health education advocated by the Natural Law Party are also unique in raising health care to a new level: development of the full potential of every citizen and reduction of individual and societal stress by promoting life in accord with natural law. This approach goes beyond behavioral modifications such as smoking cessation, which have low compliance and cannot be enforced in a free society. Research shows that stress is responsible for the persistence of life-damaging habits despite overwhelming medical evidence and governmental warnings. By neutralizing individual and social stress, the Natural Law Party can improve the effectiveness of such behavioral-modification programs by significantly enhancing compliance. In this way we can achieve a lasting social transformation toward more life-supporting, health-promoting behavior among our citizens.
The Natural Law Party is unique in offering high-quality health care for all, while providing a net cost savings for the nation.
- Spiraling medical expenses are an urgent governmental concern. Cost-containment strategies, including managed care, have not been entirely successful in stopping medical cost growth. In 1998, the United States will spend approximately $1 trillion on medical treatment, more than any other nation. Yet surprisingly, the U.S. has among the worst health outcomes of all industrial nations. Despite our high-tech medical treatments, Americans have comparatively poor life expectancies at birth: the U.S. ranks 20th for males and 18th for females among the 23 OECD nations and has the fifth highest infant mortality rate (Health Affairs 1997; 16(6): 163-171; Health Affairs 1994; 3(4): 100-112).
- The miracles of modern medicine have been much less effective in producing health than most Americans have assumed, according to mortality and morbidity rates in the United States. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that 45% of the U.S. population -- over 100 million people -- suffer from at least one chronic disease. Despite a vast array of advanced medical technologies and medications, modern medicine has no cure for these chronic diseases, only palliation (Journal of the American Medical Association 1996; 276: 1473-1479).
- See Journal of the American Medical Association 270: 2207-2212, 1993; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives, DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 91-50212, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1991; and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 2000: Midcourse Review and 1995 Revisions, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1995.
- Nearly 47% of premature deaths among Americans could have been avoided by changes in individual behaviors and another 17% by reducing environmental risks, according to a 1994 assessment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In contrast, the study suggested that only 11% of premature deaths could have been prevented by improved access to medical treatment. (See CDC, Ten Leading Causes of Death in the United States, Update, Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1994).
- Only 1% of our health sector budget is used to avoid disease, while 99% is spent to treat illness after it occurs. Astonishingly, the Federal Government also subsidizes unhealthy influences on our nation. For example, even though tobacco use is known to cause 400,000 deaths per year, including 3,000 from passive smoking, the U.S. Government subsidizes the tobacco industry. Our government also provides funding for genetic engineering and supports the nonlabeling of genetically engineered foods -- despite the potentially serious health risks of such foods and the absence of research on long-term environmental effects (see our Agriculture section). Furthermore, the current Congress cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 27% in 1995, despite the link between industrial pollution and disease suggested by the rising high incidence of cancer in America and other industrialized nations.
- This health care option would be available to Medicare and Medicaid subscribers under a voucher system. Medical savings accounts establish an annual sum to cover subscriber health care costs; any unused portion of the account is paid directly to the subscriber each year. These accounts thus encourage savings and discourage unnecessary use of the health care system. However, this health care option also provides for catastrophic coverage at rates similar to traditional insurance plans in order to protect subscribers facing unexpected health care costs.
- New England Journal of Medicine 328:246-252, 1993; Journal of the American Medical Association 280 (18): 1569-1575, 1998.
- Real preventive health care averts disease before it arises -- and recent studies indicate that specific programs of behavioral prevention produce large cost savings.
- A 10-year study by the University of Michigan at Steelcase Corporation reported that systematic programs of diet, exercise, and stress reduction, when targeted for subjects in high-health-risk categories, reduce total health care costs by 46% (see Medical Tribune 14, February 10, 1994).
A program designed by Dr. Dean Ornish and used in a number of American hospitals has consistently shown that systematic use of diet, exercise, and meditation in combination can clear clogged arteries -- promising large savings over the average $20,000-$50,000 cost of angioplasty and bypass surgery (see Journal of the American Medical Association 274:894-901, 1995; Lancet 336:129-133, 1990; and American Journal of Cardiology 69: 845-853, 1992).
A retrospective study of Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance data for 693 faculty, staff, and dependents at an Iowa university who used components of the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health showed that the group had 92% fewer hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease compared with statewide norms. Subjects over 45 years old had 91% fewer days in the hospital for all diseases and 88% fewer days than matched controls; total medical expenditures per person were 59% lower than norms and 57% lower than controls (American Journal of Managed Care 1997; 3(1): 135-144).
- The AMA spent $8.5 million from January to June 1997 lobbying the Federal Government to influence national medical policymaking (Chicago Tribune, March 7, 1998, Section 1, p. 7). The American Medical Association political action committee, known as AMPAC, is one of the largest medical PACs. For a discussion of the insidious influence of such expenditures on legislation, see Starr, P., The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The Rise of a Sovereign Profession and the Making of a Vast Industry, New York: Basic Books, 1984 (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction); Wolinksy, H., and Brune, T., The Serpent on the Staff: The Unhealthy Politics of the American Medical Association, New York: G.P. Putnams Sons, 1994; and Harmer, R.M., American Medical Avarice, New York: Abelard-Schuman, 1975.