By: Elissa Meininger – Health Policy Analyst
“America’s veterans deserve the very best health care because they’ve earned it.” Jim Ramstad, U.S. Congressman
My husband died eight years ago and I took the opportunity to go on a journey of self-discovery that, for a time, led me to Austin, Texas, and then back home to Oklahoma City.
Within days of returning home, I learned that an old political buddy, Bill Duncan, was in town, doing something interesting. So who is Bill Duncan, you ask? He’s the fellow my Fifth District US Congressman, Ernest Istook, hired in 1995 to clean up the medical system.
At the time, I served as head of Ross Perot’s Reform Party Health Committee so this gave me a good reason to pay attention to what was going on with Bill. Reformers were in the business of finding ways to clean up government. A third of Bill’s job was to make sure the new Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health wouldn’t get screwed up.
When the NIH Director attacked it, Bill created the legislation, passed by Senator Tom Harkin, that created the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). It’s very existence was as welcome as ants at a picnic because our American medical system is based on using drugs, surgery and other high tech (read expensive) modes of treating illness and injury.
Allopathy? What’s THAT?
Technically, the medical philosophy that our medical establishment practices is called “allopathy”. Consequently, the CAM department had many enemies, and still does. As an economist by training, Bill’s overall assignment was to make the U.S. healthcare system more effective, more efficient, and less expensive. His doctorate is in political science, economics, and public law, but he also has an MBA from Boston University.
In his program, which he took in Germany, Harvard professors came to Germany and taught the program from Harvard’s books. This gave him a great basis for understanding the mandate from Rep. Istook. This included reducing regulatory burdens, increasing market availability of affordable health insurance, and driving new and effective treatments and technologies, including ones with no patent, into use.