Lyme Disease is at the forefront today. While such therapies as chelation therapy, IV nutrient therapy, sublingual and provocative allergy testing have long come under attack along with other functional/integrative therapies that combine the tools and approaches that best fit the needs of the individual, these approaches continue to be targeted by insurance companies, Big Pharma, FDA, CDC, and other agencies seeking to suppress what is the patient's right to choose with complete and informed consent. One would think that the individual would be protected by such a right.
A Retrospective Look
Compare a physician under attack from 1976-1994 versus today – 2018. I was recently honored to come before the Maryland Assembly to highlight the "extensive scrutiny, sanctions, cost, investigation, and discrimination" that continues to plague physicians utilizing functional medicine testing and treatments. The opinion and judgment of integrative practitioners is questioned and challenged even though integrative modalities often prove to be more efficacious, present fewer risks as well as reduced cost for patients and insurance companies, and for many patients a return to optimal wellness.
We know 80% of chronic illness can be reversed!
Many of you reading this may not know of or have ever heard of my husband, Warren M. Levin, MD. Dr. Levin opened the first integrative and alternative medicine practice in New York City in 1974 as an MD. By 1976, he was under scrutiny and ultimately brought up on 141 charges, which were not dismissed until 1994 when he received a resounding victory by the New York State Board of Regents.
Briefly, his case represents the longest hearing ever heard before the NY State Office of Professional Misconduct (OPMC). The Board of Regents harshly criticized the OPMC for not following legal procedure, abrogating Dr. Levin's rights; and most importantly their decision in this case centered on the opinion(s) of the panel members(s) that "NO INDIVIDUAL CAN DETERMINE THE STANDARD OF PRACTICE….before the engines of the State are started up against an individual, there must be some threshold showing of justification for such an intrusion." To highlight the arrogance and chutzpah of this board, one of the witnesses for Dr. Levin was Linus Pauling, PhD, two-time Nobel Prize winner in science and peace and the holder of 49 PhDs. Dr. Pauling was not considered a credible witness over the opinions of the panel members, as he was not an MD.
Science Is Not Decided by Majority Vote!
The result of this case was the passage of an amendment to the New York State Medical Practice Act in the summer of 1994, supported by the work of FAIM (Foundation For the Advancement of Innovative Medicine), which recognized the role of adjunctive/functional/immune supportive therapies. It amended Education Law 6527 by adding paragraph (e) to subdivision (4) allowing physicians to utilize "whatever medical care, conventional or adjunctive therapies which effectively treats human disease, pain, or injury, and required placement of two (2) non-conventional physicians on the state professional medical board." Following a similar tact, the Maryland bills require that at least one of the peer reviewers have training in the approach under review.
Today: Just as this law still exists so have 15 other states amended their laws providing physicians with the right to responsibly deliver integrative diagnostic techniques along with such therapies as IV ozone, UV light therapy, hyperbaric oxygen as well as nutrition, diet, lifestyle coaching, and a variety of other therapies that support the healing of the body.
Maryland's Proposed Senate Bill 950 / House Bill 1266
The bills being put forth seek to provide physicians specifically treating Lyme and other tick-borne diseases with these same rights. This bill will allow practitioners to consider and employ, in their best judgment, testing and treatment that will serve the best interests of their patients as long as they give informed consent which "(1) fully disclose[s] to the patient that the diagnostic test or treatment is, in fact, integrative or non-conventional and (2) the treatment poses no greater risk than conventional medicine that is not outweighed by the potential benefits of the evaluation or treatment."
Medical Boards Continue to Fight to Maintain the Status Quo
Alan Dumoff, Esq., one of the main authors of the bill, states, "The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) support a significant number of integrative medical centers at major academic institutions around the country." In addition, there is a plethora of published research available around the world exploring and validating the use of functional and integrative medicine. However, there is still a bias by practitioners that use solely conventional methods against integrative practitioners.
Further, when the State Board cannot demonstrate poor judgment, they turn to poor record keeping, billing or other administrative issues they can use to sanction such physicians. The Maryland bill disallows the use of these "proxy" issues as a substitute means of discipline over professional differences of opinion.
The state of Maryland is ranked the fourteenth in the country for reporting of people with Lyme and tick-borne diseases. As such, it is crucial that physicians/providers have in their arsenal every means necessary to treat their patients in a safe and efficacious manner.
Lyme is at epidemic proportions throughout the US, and the time is now when this legislation must be passed, and the voice of the patient must be heard! The voice of the brave constituents who testified at the hearing on March 7, 2018, represents a mere few of the patients, advocates, and physicians seeking to have their voices heard and choices implemented without undue scrutiny. Their voices and the voices of those throughout the country can no longer be denied. "The Standard of Care" has failed millions of people suffering today. The traditional model is broken!
As of this submission, we are still awaiting a decision.
Susan Levin, Management Consultant, LLC
Consultant, Coach, Advocate