I’m about to tell you about one of the most important cases in US healthcare, an assault, and a turning point – the prosecution of a Northwestern Indiana cutting-edge Doctor of Osteopathy, Wilbert C. (Cal) Streeter.
Although few have ever heard of the Streeter case, it, of itself, and of its result, make it a landmark. The case began, roughly, in 1996, as the result of certain pressures put on the government by the nefarious “quackbuster” operation, and it is still going on – but has taken an entirely different, and interesting turn.
The case is interesting to the powerful North American Health Freedom Movement because it was THE CASE, I believe, that was supposed to be the “model case” to be used against all “Alternative Medicine” practitioners nationwide. But since the case pretty much died on the vine, so to speak, the “model” was dropped, and although the tactic was used in a few places – it wasn’t continued.
This is probably the very first case where the credibility of the “quackbuster” operation was questioned at the Federal Prosecutor level – and found wanting. The entire case against Streeter was based upon the premises about health care put forward by the “quackbuster” operation at the Federation of States Medical Boards (FSMB) annual meeting in Chicago in 1996. There, a major program was presented. It was, supposedly, on “Health Fraud,” and how to combat it. But really, it was an attempt to deflect the Federal government’s interest AWAY from then Attorney General Janet Reno’s definition of “Health Fraud,” as “Over billing, false coding, MD kickbacks, etc,” and push it towards a different focus – “Alternative Medicine.”
That plan, put forward at the Chicago FSMB meeting is called the “Plan of ’96” and although it caused some damage, in the end it failed. I’ll tell you about the actual plan, and who operated it, and where it stands today, in a minute. I believe that the Streeter case was the FIRST time the tactic, presented in Chicago, was used. And, there were victims.
One of the first “victims” of the “Plan of ’96” was a large patient group in Northern Indiana, an area that included the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. About 10,000 patients of Cal Streeter DO were one day suddenly deprived of the cutting-edge services of their physician – and they’ve suffered for it ever since. They are still angry about it – and have decided to do something about it – ten years later.
In short – they want Cal Streeter DO back in practice, and they are getting their way, whether those that want him out of practice like it or not. And, they’ll probably be targeting, by various means, those that caused their loss of Streeter’s services. It’s going to be an interesting battle.
But first, let’s put this case into perspective with what’s happening in US health care ten years later – 2006.
The US HealthCare System is Badly Broken…
There are as lot of reasons why, in 2006, US healthcare is rated seventy-second (72) in quality, but number one in cost, worldwide – and it’s the number one killer of Americans – ahead of heart disease and cancer. The US healthcare system is broken.
One of those reasons, of course, is the New York ad agency’s “quackbuster” operation, a scam designed to stop any, and all, innovation in health care that competes with the “drugs, drugs, and more drugs” approach to health care – a paradigm favored by HMOs, and organizations offering the health care swill I call “Five Minute Medicine.”
“Five Minute Medicine?” Yes, that’s what I said. “Five Minute Medicine,” these days, is the reality of conventional health care in the US. It’s where a patient has a health problem, gets an appointment six weeks later, waits an hour-and-a-half in the waiting room, twenty minutes in an examining room to see a Physician’s Assistant for all of FIVE Minutes, the last three minutes of which are taken up writing three new prescriptions, so they can go stand in line for an hour-and-a-half at the pharmacy, to shell out their $300 co-pay.
In other words US medicine has been reduced to a reliance on drugs for everything. And, there is a formal organization working to keep that situation in place, without change, no matter what.
It’s that “Five Minute Medicine,” I think, that, by itself, is driving so many Americans into the use of “Alternatives” in health care. Americans, like the rest of the people of the world, have the idea that health professionals are there to solve their health problems – after all, that’s what they shell out all that money every month for – so they think. When a patient gets disenchanted with the “Five Minute Medicine” system, inevitably they’ll find “Alternative Medicine,” and the fact that the “alternative” practitioners actually spend time with them; listening to them, working out treatment plans, talking to them about their problems, explaining things, and asking tons of questions – and in the long and short run, actually improving the patient’s health and welfare.
But, the reality is, that health practitioners who spend time with their patients, and have a reputation for solving patient issues, paint a big target on their backs. And, who targets them? The New York ad agency run “quackbuster” operation.
For years, well known “alternative” practitioners were picked off, State by State, license by license – but the shift from “Five Minute Medicine” to “Alternative Medicine” continued to grow by leaps and bounds – so much so that, in a panic, certain representatives of “mainstream medicine,” came up with a plan to try to turn the tide. It was called the “Plan of ’96” and although it caused some damage, in the end it failed. I’ll tell you about the actual plan, and who operated it, in a minute.
Why It (The Plan of ’96) Was Formally Assembled…
The “Plan of ’96” is, and was, a scam… It was designed, an implemented, as a “disinformation campaign” for specific reasons. “Medicine,” in 1996, was faltering because of three things
The FIRST thing was reports showing that medical care in this country was so bad that doctors and hospitals were listed as the third largest cause of unnecessary death. Since then, they have moved to the Number one spot. Americans have been finding out that the average MD these days, beyond the emergency room, has little to offer beyond the “magic bullet,” meaning the new drug pushed this week by the drug company salesman.
The SECOND thing was a 1993 report in the New England Journal of Medicine (JAMA) that showed the huge financial impact of “Alternative Medicine” on the US health care dollar. It was, and is, cutting into “Drug” profits.
The THIRD was the Clinton Administration’s identification of “health fraud” as a major cause of health care’s rising costs – and the announcement of Attorney General Janet Reno’s plans to deal with that issue STRONGLY.