CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, MD’s very public transformation into a proponent of medical marijuana has done more than just inspire late-night talk show hosts to joke that his employer should change its name to the “Cannabis News Network.”
It has at least one pundit speculating that the U.S. has arrived at a “tipping point” in which the American is open to legalizing some drugs that had generally been thought of as illicit.
But despite Gupta’s fame, influence and seemingly heartfelt apology for previously being “dismissive” of medical marijuana, that’s giving him a little too much credit.
That tipping point indeed may have come in 2013, but it came before Gupta’s change of heart. In April, a Pew research poll of 1,500 adults revealed that for the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans (52%) said they favor legalizing the use of marijuana.
Support for legalization rose 11 percentage points in just three years, and has come a long way since 1969, when just 12% were in favor of it, according to Pew.
The Washington Post appears to have been right on when it labeled marijuana as “the new gay marriage,” another issue in which support amongst the American public has risen sharply in recent years.
With marijuana, what’s less clear is exactly why Americans’ acceptance of it is growing. Ballot measures in Colorado and Washington last year, in which voters supported decriminalization and legalization, no doubt have made a difference in making marijuana seem more acceptable to the mainstream. In April, Illinois became the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana.
Still, the answer may be a little more simple. Perhaps more people are supportive of loosening legal restrictions on marijuana because they’ve used the drug themselves. In 2001, Pew found that 38% of adults said they’ve tried pot, and that number had risen to just 40% by 2010. But in the three years since, the number has jumped to 48%, Pew found. Of those who’ve tried it, 47% said they used it “just for fun.”
If the trend holds, the percentage of Americans who’ve tried pot will continue to rise and the number who support legalization is likely to grow right along with it in the coming years.
A reader poll that recenty appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that clinican attitudes on medical marijuana may be moving in the same direction as those of the American public. The poll received nearly 1,500 votes, and 76% of the votes cast were in favor of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. It should be noted that this was hardly a scientifically rigorous poll, but it does serve as a general gauge of sorts for medical providers’ perceptions of medical marijuana.
As for Gupta, he’s predictably faced a little backlash over his rapid about-face on medical marijuana, such as a Boston Globe health reporter who pronounced herself “disappointed” in Gupta for “swinging too hard from one pendulum to the other.”
But at least give Gupta credit for clearly explaining the “why” behind his seemingly abrupt turnaround. Business Insider cites nine reasons that Gupta offered, including that marijuana laws are not based on science, the drug doesn’t have a “high potential for abuse” and that pot is much safer than lots of prescription drugs.
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Physicians across the country are attending seminars that teach doctors how to start their own direct primary care practices. Direct primary care practices take no health insurance, only cash. In a recent survey conducted by the DPMA Foundation, 2 out of 3 doctors say they are “just squeaking by or in the red,” and 83% say they are “thinking about quitting the business.” With the looming threat of Obamacare, many doctors are planning to ditch the traditional business model for a more simple and straightforward one.
Dr. Jerome Aya-Ay from Palmetto Proactive healthcare in South Carolina uses the “Direct primary care,” model which is successful because it eliminates the bureaucratic hassle of insurance and lowers prices for the consumer.
Dr. Jerome Aya-Ay charges his patients via a price list similar to a restaurant menu. He also charges a monthly fee of $60 for routine services which most doctors cannot do. Listen to the interview below.
Chiropractors have been using the cash only business model for many years and are experiencing great success. Dr. Scott Baker, owner of Upper Cervical of Spartanburg, S.C. said, “We started to go 100% cash in May 2012 and are experiencing great success, now we are moving into a state of the art facility 3 times bigger than our current venue, and we will be hiring a new doctor.” Dr. Scott said he is creating a patient-driven practice. His new clinic will have a “health-spa feel” with digital touch screens for patient check-ins, flat screens TVs, and a paperless office so he can have more time to focus on his patients.
The Heritage Foundation’s Ed Haislmaier said, “I think we are going to see primary care doctors increasingly moving to a cash-only arrangement, where they opt out of insurance rules.” The simple truth is that doctors want to get off the insurance grid not only because of the risky regulations and economic factors, but because they want better relationships with their patients.
Dr. Tom Kendall of Greenville, S.C., a practicing physician and the president of the Association of American Surgeons and Physicians said, “Obamacare is not about healthcare, it’s about control. Obamacare puts the relationship of the patient and physician under the jurisdiction of the government. This means more government control and less patient choice. Under Obamacare, healthcare will be rationed, healthcare costs will increase, and bureaucrats will decide medical treatments instead of the physician and patient.”
Upstate doctors who are moving to a direct primary care are creating win-win solutions for medical professionals and their patients. It would be a move from a bureaucracy-driven model which is enamored with red tape and creates a wedge between the doctor and patient, to a patient-driven model with no insurance interference, less government intrusions, and no wasted time dealing with paperwork. It is a model that will create lower fees for patients and will allow doctors to foster better relationships with patients. The real solution to healthcare is to give patients more control over their health care dollars, and unchain doctors from the shackles of government control and regulations.
Originally posted on TechCrunch:
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