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Marching for better health care: The Science March, April 22nd, DC

Today I published an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun explaining why I am marching with the Right Care Alliance in the Science March this Saturday April 22nd in DC. We live in a bizarre world in the health care industry: We are flooded by new medicines and interventions endlessly, we are exposed to tests and procedures that are pushed on us and promoted as life-saving, and yet we cannot have enough time with our doctors, we cannot get the most basic medical services that we need, and we are told that insurance costs are escalating. Our health care system wastes $750 billion in useless medical expenses that help no one, and is unable to provide patients with the care they want and need. Just this week I am being audited (again!) by Medicare for seeing my frail elderly patients too often, patients who would often end up in the hospital without such visits. And yet Medicare has no problem paying for stress tests, stents, back MRI's, and other procedures and medicines that are expensive and of no benefit.

I am marching on Saturday because the information we receive from the scientists who are supposed to inform us about what works and what does not has been hijacked by the very industries that most profit from misinformation. Medical studies are financed and designed by drug companies, run by scientists who benefit if the results show that industry interventions work, disseminated by media in a way that exaggerate the benefits of interventions to make them seem more impressive, and then lead to endless TV ads and ultimate high-cost payment by insurance companies. Currently almost all clinical trials are in the hands of 15 corporations that design the studies in ways that guarantee certain results. No wonder the benefits are often reversed the next time the study is conducted. It is time that we move medical research out of the hands of those who profit from skewed results and in the hands of objective scientists.

President Trump and many in Congress want to cut funding to NIH and other federal sources of research dollars. But what is the alternative? More of our health care information given to us by those who profit by positive results? That is why I am marching. As a doctor and health care advocate, I am marching so we can have accurate data to help us make good health care decisions. That is what all of us want.

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