Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen
According to a major new study, 39,170 people die unnecessarily, and 301,513 have severe health problems in Wisconsin due to the problems inherent in the approved American Health Care System – and nothing is being done about it. You can find out more about this by reading an earlier article called “The American Medical System is Broken.”
Instead, as a matter of policy, Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing (DRL) “health” prosecutors focus exclusively on two things, neither of which is the“unnecessary death” issue: (1) stamping out those health practitioners (Innovators) who attempt to solve the health care system problems, and (2) acting on behalf of health insurance companies who don’t want to pay legitimate claims.
October 22nd, 2004 was the last day in office for Donsia Strong Hill, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle’s appointee as Secretary of the DRL. She had resigned “to spend more time with her family.” Frankly, I think she just couldn’t handle the pressure any more.
And, the pressure has been INTENSE.
Strong Hill, you may recall, had taken over the DRL right in the middle of the war. Two DRL Prosecutors, Arthur Thexton, and James Polewski, had used, and abused, their State positions to file charges against every innovative health practitioner they could find in the State – MDs, DOs, Chiropractors, Nurses, Veterinarians, etc. No one was safe. Innovative” practitioners are those who have stepped out of the “Five Minute Medicine,” paradigm, and act to solve their patients problems – no matter how long it takes.
The “War in Wisconsin,” as the project got labeled, was/is a major confrontation between the “quackbuster” conspiracy, and the North American Health Freedom Movement (NAHFM). The “quackbusters” a few years ago, completely controlled health care offerings in Wisconsin, and would ruthlessly attack any, and all, health practitioners that dared to offer any health ideas that conflicted with the juvenile health statements maintained on “quackwatch.com,” or the even sillier“ncahf.org.”
Then, the powerful North American Health Freedom Movement (NAHFM), which outnumbers the quackbusters 100,000 to 1, counter-attacked. And, things changed.
Frankly, under Strong Hill’s leadership, and pressure from the NAHFM, it was been beginning to look like the “War in Wisconsin,” was over. After all, it isn’t every day that a regulatory agency hires what it thinks is an “expert witness” (a quackbuster) goes through half of a trial using that witness spending $70,000 on the witness, and $165,000 on the case, and then does an about-face once it learns that the witness is, shall-we-say, is “irrevocably soiled.”
Since her appointment, Strong Hill, had been making policy changes – or at least ATTEMPTING to make them. She declared in public “What I inherited were a group of prosecutors who basically had functioned in the past with very little supervision over them or direction or even the establishment of priorities,” Strong Hill said. “We certainly have changed that.” When CBS News 3 asked Strong Hill, “You’re supervising them more closely?” She responded, “They are definitely being supervised more closely.”
Strong Hill, it looked to me, had been trying to do the right thing for Wisconsinites. She had made her new policies crystal clear, both to DRL employees and the public.
But, after watching the situation a while, what do I find out? It isn’t over.
Both “quackbuster” prosecutors, James Polewski and Arthur Thexton have openly, and defiantly, thumbed their noses at Strong Hill. Except for a dab here and there, Strong Hill could not, or would not, control them. Thexton and Polewski were never refocused on the REAL problems in health care like those deaths and injuries I described above.
And, that was, and is, unacceptable… Governor Doyle is going to have to appoint a much tougher replacement.
The top three causes of Unnecessary Deaths in the United States, including Wisconsin, are related to our Health Care System…
The State of Wisconsin, has a population of 5,461,710. The US population is 284,000,000. Wisconsin has 1/52 of the US population. A new study, a compilation of most recent government studies, called “Death by Medicine,” says:
The number one cause of unnecessary death in the United States, called Iatrogenic deaths (783,986) is shown in the table below, re-printed by permission of the authors:
|Hospital ADR||106,000||$12 billion||Lazarou1 Suh49|
|Medical error||98,000||$2 billion||IOM6|
|Bedsores||115,000||$55 billion||Xakellis7 Barczak8|
|Infection||88,000||$5 billion||Weinstein9 MMWR10|
|Outpatient ADR||199,000||$77 billion||Starfield12 Weingart112|
|Unnecessary Procedures||37,136||$122 billion||HCUP3,13|
The number two cause of unnecessary death in the United States is Heart Disease. Statistics show “The 2001 heart disease annual death rate is 699,697.”
The number three cause of unnecessary death in the United States is Cancer. Statistics show “the annual cancer death rate, 553,251.”
The total number of known unnecessary deaths, per year, in the United States, directly due to the American Medical System is 2,036,884.
The State of Wisconsin, has a population of 5,461,710. Extrapolating that to the US population of 284,000,000 we find that Wisconsin has 1/52 of the US population. Dividing 52 into the total number of deaths (2,036,884), and the 15,678,513 health problems, shows that Wisconsin’s share was 39,170 total deaths, and 301,513 health problems.
Instead of dealing with this horrible situation, Wisconsin’s DRL prosecutors won’t prosecute anything BUT innovative practitioners, or those who dare to argue with a health insurance company about payment for their services. The over-druggers, the bad surgeons, the bedsore ignorers, the malnutrition deliverers, etc., are perfectly safe in the cheese State.
And, that is even more unacceptable…
It gets Worse…
The November 2004 issue of the New York State Medical Society’s newsletter has just EXPOSED that health insurance companies are now CONTRACTING with individual State agencies to PROSECUTE health professionals they don’t want to pay health claims to. That’s right – they PAY the departments to take someone’s license away.
We know, for sure in Wisconsin, the in the last few years FOURTEEN health professionals have been prosecuted because of insurance company complaints – not patient complaints. We never thought to ask Wisconsin DRL if they were paid for those actions – but we will now.
Tim Bolen – Consumer Advocate