Trouble in Paradise (Opinion)
By Hesh Goldstein
We all know, for the most part, that physicians are basically clueless when it comes to natural healing without the use of synthetic chemicals.
And it wasn't that long ago that physicians were doing advertisements that extolled the virtues of smoking Camel cigarettes (as a side note, where we were with tobacco in the 1940s is now where we are now with GMOs).
Recently in Hawaii, the state terminated three Medicaid physicians who are prescribing high amounts of potent psychiatric and pain drugs, while two others are under investigation.
After getting 2008 data showing the top 10 Hawaii prescribers for six antipsychotic medications, a painkiller and an antidepressant, there were concerns about oversight and enforcement of Medicaid abuse here in Paradise.
What was revealed also was that the top prescriber of OxyContin, an addictive painkiller, nearly doubled the prescriptions prescribed by the second provider on the list and more than four times the 10th provider. Also revealed was that the top prescribers of powerful antipsychotic drugs wrote double or triple the number of prescriptions as others on the lists.
Interestingly enough, none of the physicians on the lists were identified by name, only by their prescriber identification numbers. I guess they figured if their names were revealed they would pick up a lot more customers.
When you are dealing with drugs of this nature, including Seroquel and Zyprexa (anti-psychotics), Roxicodone (painkiller), and Xanax (anti-anxiety), there is a lot of concern.
Because of their addictive properties, the painkillers are not only abused by patients but are often sought for resale on the black market. Some of the anti-psychotics have been the focus of investigations in which pharmaceutical companies were accused of illegally promoting the drugs for unapproved uses.
The data indicated that the top 10 Hawaii prescribers of Seroquel collectively wrote more than 5000 prescriptions in the year 2008, which was the latest year in which statistics were available. The cost to Medicaid? Nearly $1.4 billion.
The top prescriber for Zyprexa wrote 581 prescriptions costing Medicaid more than $330,000, the highest amount among the individual physicians on the seven lists. Incidentally, the 10th prescriber for Zyprexa only wrote 140 prescriptions.
Some of the doctors showed up on multiple lists. The top Zyprexa prescriber, for instance, also was the top one for Geodon, another anti-psychotic, and the second highest for Seroquel.
I guess when you realize that the average price for a home in Hawaii is $643,000, you do what you can to make a buck.
Also, in the same month, a Kauai physician was sentenced to 12 years in prison for alleged violations in the prescription of controlled substances. In recent years, several other Hawaii physicians have lost the ability to prescribe narcotic pain medications, lost their medical licenses or were sentenced to prison.
Fraud, waste and abuse are a serious problem and a tragic loss of scarce government dollars earmarked to provide healthcare to those most in need.
Unfortunately, there are rare providers that abuse the system for financial gain, without regard for professional standards of care or sincere concern for the patients they claim to treat.
Concerns about inappropriate use of prescription narcotics are by no means limited to the civilian sector. A study done in San Francisco found that Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who have psychiatric disorders, especially posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are more likely than mentally healthy vets to use prescription narcotic painkillers.
The problem is far deeper than needing to weed out "bad apples", whether they are physicians or patients.
Yes, there are many more good doctors who work on the frontline and do their best to treat medically complicated, unemployable, often homeless patients with limited insurance resources.
It is also difficult to easily separate patients who simply want to score drugs from those with genuine pain resulting from significant trauma and degenerative disease.
There are a large number of people who grow up in our island community as victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. While there are many who suffer from PTSD acquired during military service, there are others with fractured bodies, minds and spirits that have never left the islands.
The bottom line is that we need to identify and deal with physicians and patients who mean only to manipulate and defraud a health care system that the rest of us pay dearly with taxes to support.
We must also be aware, however, that each time we stop a provider from practicing, a wave of patient refugees ripples through the healthcare community, suffering from withdrawal and desperately needing help.
Another problem is that many primary care physicians are poorly equipped to handle the population and are becoming more increasingly concerned about legal risks.
Our country's Supreme Court is now considering whether to strike down new mandates meant to ensure that more Americans have health insurance. But we must understand that society can be better served when its citizens have access to fundamental health care and preventive services.
Sickness, old age and death are inevitable. They happen to each and every one of us. What we see is that we are an island community that is part of a great nation with a responsibility to create access to quality health care for more of its citizens. While we see that if we do not, human suffering will grow and the cost to each of us individually and collectively will be far greater.
What we need is a healthcare system that will provide basic needs for everyone without hidden provisions to microchip us, kill us if we're too old, or hang us out to dry.
Aloha!About the author:
I have been doing a weekly radio show in Honolulu since 1981 called "Health Talk". In 2007 I was "not allowed" to get a Masters degree in Nutrition because of all the doctors that would call in asking for my credentials. They do not call in anymore. Going to http://www.healthtalkhawaii.com
enables you, among other things, to listen to the shows. I am an activist. In addition to espousing an organic vegan diet for optimum health, I am strongly opposed to GMOs, vaccines, processed foods, MSG, aspartame, fluoridation and everything else that the pimps (Big Pharma, Monsanto and the large food companies) and the hookers (the doctors, the government agencies, the public health officials, and the mainstream media) thrust upon us, the tricks.
After being vaccinated with the DTP vaccine as a child I developed asthma. After taking the organic sulfur crystals (they are harvested from the pine trees in Louisiana) in November of 2008 for 10 days my asthma reversed and has not come back over 3 years later, 18 cases, so far, of autism have been reversed, as has cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, osteoarthritis, joint pain, gum disease, increased sexual activity, heavy metal and radiation elimination, parasite elimination, free radicals elimination, faster athletic recovery time, increased blood circulation, reduced inflammation, resistance to getting the flu, reduction of wrinkles, allergy reduction, reduced PMS and monthly period pain, nausea, migraines and so much more. And it's only possible because of the oxygen it releases that floods the cells of the body. You can find out more about this incredible nutrient also on my website - http://www.healthtalkhawaii.com
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I am 73. I have been a vegetarian since 1975 years and a vegan since 1990. I have no illnesses and take no meds. I play basketball 2 hours a week, am in 2 softball leagues, racewalk, body surf, do stand-up paddling, do weight workouts and teach women's self defense classes based upon 25 years of Wing Chun training.
My firm belief - if it had a face and a mother or if man made it, don't eat it.