It’s a shame. Michael Jackson did not have to die.
At least not if our politicians had their way. Most of the major national health reform initiatives being shopped on Capitol Hill include two ingredients which might have prevented the King of Pop from accessing the deadly combination of prescription drugs that contributed and most likely caused his death last week. Interestingly enough, though not without controversy, these concepts (or at least much of the rationale behind them) enjoy fairly widespread support throughout the health insurance industry and on both sides of the political debate.
The first is the concept of a “medical home”, an idea that rose to prominence in recent years led by the American Association of Family Practitioners and The Future of Family Medicine Project published in 2004. The basic idea is that every patient has a “home” doctor-a Primary Care or General Practice physician-who serves as the focal point in directing the team of specialists and other providers utilized by the patient, and coaching the patient through the myriad of medical decisions they encounter throughout their treatment.
How could the medical home have saved The King of Pop? From the article “The Future of Family Medicine: A Collaborative Project of the Family Medicine Community” published in the Annals of Family Medicine (March/April 2004):
Through their medical home, patients can be assured of care that is not only accessible but also accountable, comprehensive, integrated, patient-centered, safe, scientifically valid, and satisfying to both patients and their physicians. (p.S14)
According to published reports, Jackson’s daily intake of drugs included Demerol, Dilaudid, Zoloft, Vicodin, Soma, Paxil, Xanax, and Prilosec.
Satisfying maybe, but accountable, safe, scientifically valid? Hardly.
The second element, strongly favored by President Obama and backed by $1.1 billion in Stimulus funding, is the more controversial “Comparative Effectiveness Research”. CER is based on the theory that, for many conditions, there are proven best practices that doctors should follow to achieve optimal health outcomes. While insurers and larger employers have long called for improved medical quality through the use of evidence based medicine, these guidelines are often cited by critics of government run healthcare as the hammer to ration care and dictate how doctors need to treat patients.
Think about how these guidelines, either enforced by a government run plan or put into elective use by his doctors, might have saved the King. Really, could there be any evidence that the most effective treatment for Jacko’s condition was a combination of Demerol, Dilaudid, Zoloft, Vicodin, Soma, Paxil, Xanax, and Prilosec???
He was a drug addict, no doubt. And can you help someone who doesn’t want to be helped? Well, that would depend on many factors, not the least of which is who controls the payments and what is the role of the government in overseeing (or dictating!) healthcare in the U.S. Both are subjects for another day, and let’s face it: do they truly matter anyway? After all, nothing can change the fact that the King of Pop is still dead.
But his dance moves live on forever. A link to some of MJ’s best dance moves.