Health Care Reform: a gift to open or not?

(a)glowimages

(a)glowimages

Ever receive a gift that initially you didn’t really want or did not know what to do with it?  I mean, life’s been fine before it came along, right?

But then we open those strange gifts. Mine include my first bike, gas stove, microwave, computer, laptop, Blackberry, iphone, and ipad air. I’ve often found that the new item can require a learning curve which allows it to accrue appreciation in my life. Next, remarkably, it becomes indispensable!

Perhaps Health Care Reform is that odd present – so different that we just stared and wondered about its utility.

The headline “Health-care price inflation is at its lowest rate in 50 years”, from the Christian Science Monitor, gives some early results of the Affordable Care Act. It notes:

“The White House report highlights provisions of the ACA that it says have brought down health costs, including the reduction of Medicare overpayments to providers and private insurers. The ACA also created an incentive to reduce hospital readmission rates and boosted the use of “accountable care organizations,” a payment and care model that ties reimbursements to outcomes.

The report cites research that shows the ACA’s Medicare reforms are likely to improve quality across the entire health-care system…”

What good news!

There is another important trend in health care that kind of like that odd gift will eventually become indispensable – taking care of the whole person, including their spiritual needs. It’s actually been around for millenniums.

“The needs of the spirit are as crucial to health as are those individual organs which make up the body,” observed Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, over one hundred years ago.

And today practitioners in the healing arts continue to make this discovery.

At this year’s American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference, Dr. Dean Ornish told the audience, largely made up of physicians: “Doctors need to reclaim their role as healers, not simply technicians,” reminding them that healing comes from the root word, “to make whole.” He also shared that “the goal of all spiritual practices is they quiet our mind and body so we can experience what we already have.” He emphasized, “It’s not to get something but rather to experience the peace and well-being that’s already there.”

I recently met an internist who confided she was afraid her fellow doctors would ridicule her if they knew how she approached her practice. She said, “I always tell my patients, ‘You are a gift from God’. I believe that. I find most patients appreciate my acknowledgement of their worth. I certainly think that contributes to the healing of pain and other disorders they find in my care.”

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