Love Live You: Health care in the new year

Love Live You: Health care in the new year

By Dr. Marie Steinmetz

This is the time of year for two things. One is reminiscing about the year behind us and dreaming of the potential of the year ahead. The second is catching up on the new movies to hit the big screen. So this final column of the year combines both.

This year the Supreme Court upheld the new health care law. Itstill remains to be seen if that is good or bad. Our system is on a path to collapse; so something must change. Unfortunately, the same people who created our expensive system of over-testing and poor-spending priorities are in charge of health care reform.

My hope for the new year is we will start looking out of the box for new ways to approach our health. The newest documentary on health care shows one way to do that.


In October, a documentary called “Escape Fire” ( made its debut. This is a must-see for anyone interested in health care and especially health care reform.

The movie starts out with a dedicated young family doctor who wants to care for her patients. It shows her frustration with the system and how she goes out to find a better way to practice. There is a great discussion by Dr. Andrew Weil about health care and his fellowship program at the University of Arizona. I was especially interested in this since I am a fellow in the program.


Alexandria and Virginia have a prominent place in this movie. The Samueli Institute — headed by Dr. Wayne Jonas and headquartered in Alexandria — has done groundbreaking work with the military. It is using acupuncture and mind-body techniques to decrease or eliminate narcotics use in our wounded warriors.

One segment features Wise County in southwest Virginia, which hosts Remote Area Medicine every summer to provide free medical and dental care to patients who can’t afford health care. This segment was especially close to my heart since my son, David Killeen, and I have volunteered there the last two years.


Dr. Dean Ornish is a man to be admired for his tenacity. Despite solid data, it took him 16 years to get his program using nutrition and lifestyle change to reverse heart disease paid for by Medicare. His frustration comes out clearly in the film, where he states even with great studies, the system will not endorse changes unless they are drugs or procedures.

Watch this movie and become an advocate for change. Federal funds should not go to any medical school without a department of family medicine. Nutrition should be included in medical school training. Medicare should pay for acupuncture and mind-body techniques known to be helpful for patients. Heart patients should be informed that they can reverse their disease with the Dean Ornish program.

As you reflect on your New Year’s health goals, let me know of any subjects you would like to learn more about in this column. And may the new year bring you good health and happy times with friends and family.