Transcript: Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona (Health Care), Aug 31 2006

Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona is a physician, a psychiatrist, a professor of medicine. A Native American, he is the author of books about Native American healing including "Coyote Healing" and "Coyote Wisdom".

Thom Hartmann interview with Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona 31 August 2006

[Thom Hartmann] Lewis Mehl-Madrona is with us in the studio, Lewis an old and dear friend. He's a physician, a psychiatrist, a professor of medicine. You have, Lewis, you used to be teaching down at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right.

[Thom Hartmann] You and Andrew Wild were running the - what was it called - integrated medicine, basically the holistic medicine program down there.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right.

[Thom Hartmann] And you have since moved up to Canada.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] That's right, Saskatchewan.

[Thom Hartmann] Saskatchewan. And you are teaching medicine there plus you are in practice as a physician.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right.

[Thom Hartmann] And I'm just really curious, you know, I get these right wingers on all the time who are, and by the way, Lewis is also the author of numerous books, you're Native American, you wrote about Native American healing, "Coyote Healing", "Coyote Wisdom" is your latest book.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right.

[Thom Hartmann] And the web site for more information on that, course you find in any of the books sites, you know, you can go to any of the book stores and just google Coyote Healing or Coyote Wisdom, or is there another one, too?

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Coyote Medicine.

[Thom Hartmann] Coyote Medicine, of course, the first one.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] And then there's the new one, "Narrative Medicine", coming out in July.

[Thom Hartmann] Oh, that's great, that's great. And so you can just, you know, find that or you go to Lewis's site, which is Right?

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. OK, cool. So Lewis, the, you grew up in the United States. You've seen, you've seen medicine in the United States from, from poverty on the reservation to working in New York City.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right.

[Thom Hartmann] At Beth Israel hospital.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] 5th Avenue.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, 5th Avenue. I mean, you've seen the whole thing.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] I've seen the whole gamut.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] The good, the bad and the ugly.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, yeah. I mean, literally.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right, right,

[Thom Hartmann] And you grew up in the middle of the worst of it, you went off and practiced in some of the best of it, you practiced in some of the worst of it.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right.

[Thom Hartmann] And finally you just said to the United States, enough already?

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Well, they made me an offer I couldn't resist in Saskatchewan.

[Thom Hartmann] Well, that's nice, that's nice. So what are you finding are the primary differences, and we just have about 2,3 minutes here, but what are the primary differences between medicine in the United States and Canada?

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Well, the amazing thing is that we never talk about coverage; nobody ever asks about insurance coverage. We don't even consider someone's ability to pay.

[Thom Hartmann] You mean, if I walk into a doctor's office in Canada, nobody's asking me for my insurance card?

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] No, no. Well, you put down your, you give them your health number.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] And that's it. That's the last you ever hear of it.

[Thom Hartmann] That's the beginning and end of it.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] That's the beginning and end of it. Give them your health number, you walk out. If you don't have a health number, it's so much of a hassle that we don't even bother to bill you.

[Thom Hartmann] Really?

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] We just see you, because it's so rare.

[Thom Hartmann] You mean, if I'm like a visitor to another country, or something.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] If you come from the U.S. and you don't have a health number, we just don't bother. We just see you and take care of it.

[Thom Hartmann] That's incredible.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] It is incredible and it's amazing to not have to worry about people's ability to pay or how is this test going to be covered or, the other amazing thing is that if I want to admit someone to the hospital I just do. Nobody questions me. All I have to do is call a number and they give me a bed, and they're in.

[Thom Hartmann] Whereas here the United States, if you wanted to admit somebody onto a hospital?

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] It's a major negotiation. I have to present them as really sick. I have to beg for the bed. Once they're admitted, somebody from utilization review comes by the next day and says, "You've got to discharge this person, they can't stay here". Or, in psychiatry, for instance, seven days is the most that you can ever keep anyone here, whereas in Canada I've kept people for 30 days and nobody cares.

[Thom Hartmann] People, presumably, who needed it.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right, right, right.

[Thom Hartmann] So, so is this, now, now, some folks would hear that and say "Oh, that must be the insurance industry keeping the American system efficient, what's wrong with that?" But the fact of the matter is that Canada delivers health care to all of its citizens…

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right.

[Thom Hartmann] At about half the per capita cost that we're delivering health care to all the 46 million of our citizens

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right, I think, I remember in Arizona when I was there, the uninsured percentage was 43%.

[Thom Hartmann] Wow.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] In the state of Arizona.

[Thom Hartmann] Wow.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] And that's not even counting the illegal aliens.

[Thom Hartmann] So, bottom line: I'm, I'm not seeing all kinds of Canadians running to the United States looking for health care. Do you ever hear stories about that?

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] No. Well, you hear wealthy Canadians coming to the U.S. to get things quicker.

[Thom Hartmann] Plastic surgery.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Plastic surgery, elective kinds of procedures.

[Thom Hartmann] But if I have a heart attack in Canada, I'm going to have heart surgery the same day or the next day if I that's what I need.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Right. That's true.

[Thom Hartmann] It's just there's no waiting line.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] There's no waiting line. If you have an emergency, you get taken care of. I mean, the care is every bit as good as the United States and in many instances better.

[Thom Hartmann] Wow.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] And the reason it's better is because there is not this mountain of uninsured people who get no care, and so when they come in for care, they're really sick.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. Makes sense, makes prefect sense. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, his web site, check out his books in online book stores and buy them all over:" Coyote Medicine", "Coyote Wisdom", "Coyote Healing", and the new one?

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] "Narrative Medicine".

[Thom Hartmann] "Narrative Medicine". Lewis, thanks for being with us.

[Lewis Mehl-Madrona] Thank you, Thom.

This transcript is dedicated to the memory of LeProletariat, chat room member, who might well have still been alive and with us if he had lived in Canada. He had to stop having tests because the inconclusive ones he had already had had cost more than his insurers would play plus what he could afford on top. Sue N.

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