National Healthcare Plan— from aristocracy to welfare—A Letter to President Obama

-A Speech by Baolin Wu on the 10th World Congress of Chinese Medicine 2013 in San Francisco

Baolin Wu

Dear President Barack Obama,

We respect you. This is not because of your governmental authority; neither is because of your most exceptional knowledge and insights. This is because of the sheer passion and concern you have exuberantly lavished upon the American citizens! We, as the group of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners in California, basking in the glamorous sunlight on American soil, are receiving countless blessings in which freedom and equity have brought us as far as the eye can see. Year of 2013 is a year of the extraordinary, a year as inspiring to all California TCM practitioners as we have ever imagined at last coming to embrace the moment of the home-run victory down the road of pursuit of our Traditional Chinese Medicine dream.

Thirty-eight years ago, when the freezing air of war was still falling high atop the States and the culture corrugation flood drenched even deeper, California Governor Jerry Brown, breathed through the air and jumped over the hurdles, on the day of July 12 in 1975, had signed the legislation that legalized acupuncture, which marked the establishment of acupuncturists’ practice in the United States. This transformation is like a warm breeze that has brought each TCM practitioner overwhelming joy over the past decades before TCM practice has first time ever been approved for permission of legal practice as well as protection under the law. In memory of the distinguished efforts Governor Jerry Brown made on the legalization of TCM practice in the States, the day of July 12th has certainly be ordained the date celebrated annually by every practitioner of TCM . Mr. Jerry Brown, endearingly, was crowned with the name of “the Father of California Acupuncture” as a result of his deeds. Indeed, it is he who has irrigated the TCM land with new living water and made the practice a legal authentic entity. Thirty-eight years later, Mr. Jerry Brown once again stepped up the situation, lifting up the status of acupuncturists to the next highest horizon—making its title equivalent to MD, again, a tremendous enhancement in its social status in the United States.

However, to add even more of enlightenment to this special moment, you, dear President Obama, have lighted the fire of initiating national healthcare plan in the beginning of the year 2014. This is another monumental milestone, since Martin Luther King Jr shared his dream, which will lead the American dream to its perfection. In the interim, while this time national healthcare plan is making its way out live on the front stage, every one of the TCM practitioners couldn’t hold up our excitement and cheering up this historical significant moment for which we present our strong support. From our standpoint, I wanted to express my feelings and opinions on behalf of California Alliance and Acupuncture Medicine (CAAM):

1. National healthcare plan is a choice for all— Traditional Chinese Medicine is a pioneer in medicine

Dear President Obama: you wisely chose to champion a national health plan. Had it not been both a choice of wisdom and exemplification of a clear vision for future, it would not be as valuable as it really is now. Christianity states, all creation is protected by God. Philosophers put it this way: A sweet and comfortable life is what human supposed to seek out. Politics say, the entire human race should be ashamed for as long as there is a single person living without freedoms. This rationality symbolizes precisely how the country of United States was founded—basing upon the strive for building a perfect home where every single race gathers together, takes pleasure in equality and lives in harmony and peace. For about 200 years, the United States has made significant progress, yet we are far from achieving this ideal state. American healthcare system has had a much too long way to go to cover each and every citizen. This definitely is a roadblock to be removed.

Moreover, we also know, in the American history, quite a few presidents have had the ambition to make alive the national healthcare plan, and unfortunately all of them have been unsuccessful. Be it the boundary of history itself, be it the limitation of an individual, or be it the constraints of time and space. Nonetheless, at certain historical point, this day will come alive where “the dream” no longer remains merely a dream… thanks be to the US federal democracy regime for provision of room for self-examination and development. Americans believe it wholeheartedly, including the immigrants from foreign countries. Dear President, I sincerely believe that our faith is in tune with yours.

Our faith lies in the foundational principle of your policy, “utilize the advantage to help the disadvantage; welfare evenly to all”. By such, each American citizen has equal access to adequate healthcare. ‘Dreams do come true”. Undoubtedly, just because the US healthcare system is lead solely by advanced western medicine which has kept staying top-of-the-line from all angles worldwide, doesn’t mean that it is omnipotence. As what God designs, medical healthcare will, and always will be steps behind any event or incidence of human disease and health conditions! Consequently, in addition to the western channel, there is a demand for multiple venues—and there has yet been any greater entity than Traditional Chinese Medicine identified to share the bearing, and has been serving side-by-side, and whose companionship is more than faithful.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is an ancient art. Traditional Chinese Medicine is our ancestry. One of the greatest legacies of TCM integrates the wholeness of prevention and treatment, the wholeness of fitness and longevity, the wholeness of doctors and patients, and the wholeness of physiology and psychology. Therefore, we dare to presume that any true TCM practitioner equipped with the authentic practice will find their home base most ideal in you and the plan. Strong backup and huge praise fill up our bones and spirits in support of the national healthcare plan.

2. National healthcare plan is the choice of civilization——Traditional Chinese Medicine is the frontier troop

Dear President:

We know that the road in front of us has not been quite as smooth as hoped. Only 25 of the states have passed with consent of national healthcare plan, indicating how hard it is. We as traditional Chinese Medicine advocates are standing at a very peculiar position; either could be viewed as teetering on the edge or anchoring in the center. For as doctors, we are in the center. For as far as the US health care system goes, we are on the edge. This unique “geographic” combination provides an angle of observation no one else does. As far as we know, the total US healthcare expenditure is equivalent to that of European as a whole, whereas the population of European countries outweighs three times as much as America’s. The US medical expense is as much as military expense. Such gigantic consumption of medical bills will inevitably call for reform. Then why is the reform so difficult to take place? We suppose, one of the major roadblocks is the monopoly status of western medicine in US medical healthcare system.

The expense of diagnostic examinations in western medicine has increasingly taken up between approximately 50% ~ 70% as high in the overall expense as it originally does. Such rocket high cost indicates that not only does the scope of service of western medicine have narrowed down to where only the wealthy can afford , but also it bears little or no benefits available at all to the rest of the ‘world’. There are as many as 700,000 of uninsured population in California alone. This number is nearly as much as a quarter of the entire California residence. It shows a great deal of inequity, which displays an extreme irony as the foundational principle of the US country is exactly the other way around. In regards to all human beings, this is such a pity.

Currently, the conditions of both physical and psychological aspects influenced by social factors have become rampantly widespread and more detrimental to human health. Many of the conditions that manage to be detected and diagnosed by western medicine technology are far from being completely overcome. The practice of western medicine particularly falls short of handling neurological and endocrine system disorders, metabolism disorders, auto-immune insufficiency, mental disease, cancer and many other diseases of unknown causes. Oppositely, Traditional Chinese Medicine has been able to make a huge move in these areas. The application of treatment module- the simultaneous use of “acupuncture + herbs” has made a major breakthrough in the field of internal and external medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, and orthopedics, even in neurology, endocrinology and immunology. One of the testimonies in the last century was in the 1970’s when reporter James Reston was amazingly saved by acupuncture has been caught up with great attention to many nowadays. Moreover, I myself have had the amazing opportunity over the past 20 years to help more than 500 infertile women through acupuncture treatment and herbs to help them conceive. Tears filled up my eyes when satisfactory outcome happens one after another. None of the patients was examined by western equipment. This natural treatment could not be any more economical.

The viability of medicine is determined by its clinical effects. Thousands of years of foundation in China, and the widespread popularity around the globe of traditional Chinese medicine, lies in its absolute reliable treatment, effects, and benefits. Bian Que, Hua Tuo, Zhang Zhongjing, Sun Simiao and Wang Qingren are legendary and ancestors of traditional Chinese medicine who are still kept alive among us, in the midst of each and every TCM therapy and manual skill, which continuously bring blessings into the world.

Dear President Obama, medical costs would be lower with more widespread use of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been rejected, whereas western medicine has been taking the lead and expands itself as time passes, which in turn elicits skyscraper cost. The monopoly has made medical care only affordable by a minor group of rich population. It directly induces volumes of debt in medical care system. While traditional Chinese medicine has integrated with the notion that national healthcare should be accessible to each and everyone. I, then, would like to name the practice of traditional Chinese medicine the frontier troop in the national healthcare campaign… would you agree?

3. National health care is the choice by history —— Traditional Chinese Medicine is the leader

Dear President Obama:

I believe you support my opinion. No matter if it is the national healthcare plan, or it is our participation in national healthcare plan, it is all part of the history, a part of the choice made by history. The personal generation background of yours and the political background as democracy are all part of the history and choice made by the history. The two social class developed during great depression of the very rich and poor extremities has had its major strike upon the poor- leaving them unable to go to the hospital visits or actually go to see a doctor. However, the European national healthcare industry cast positive influence upon that of America—this, surely, is part of the history, and choice made by history.

As the United States has gone through economical crisis in 2013 and experienced a break on the budget, investors have been growing more confidence and waiting eagerly for a peak economic growth. This of course is a part of the history, a choice to take part in that history. The withdrawal of military army from Afghanistan and Iraq has decreased the military expense significantly, and the strategic handling of Asia-Pacific regional border issues has resolved the crisis. Both have become a part of the history and the choice by history. Opportunity favors the prepared mind. In a way we can state that you are choosing history. For this alone, I sincerely believe that you will stand in line with America’s greatest presidents. Similarly, it is a choice by history that traditional Chinese medicine ‘made its way’ into the arena in joint partnership with the other in this panoramic healthcare campaign. As an intact group and entity, I believe traditional Chinese medicine is going to survive and take the ride. And it is not of an absolute complicated journey as it seemed to be.

On September, 1971, New York Times has made debut of Acupuncture treatment by reporting the needles’ miraculous ability to relieve pain after the famous media publicist Mr. Reston had his appendix removed by surgery while suffering excruciating pain. After Mr. Reston went back to America, he made an episode on television introducing the amazing effects of acupuncture. America embraced it. And it went all throughout the nation and happened so naturally, peacefully, and perfectly.

Thirty-eight years ago, traditional Chinese medicine has received its legal status in the State of California. During over thirty years of challenging exploration, TCM has managed to navigating in the same direction as that of Governor Jerry Brown and fulfilling his broad vision. It can be said that traditional medicine did not disappoint Mr. Jerry Brown, nor did it disappoint hundreds of thousands of its supporters. As such, the voice of traditional Chinese medicine sounds louder each time history has chosen under the protection of President and Mr. Jerry Brown. We deeply know this legal protection not only is a shelter provided for us to shield from the rain and windstorms, but even more of a rare opportunity that was created to allow us to have conversations on the equal platform and exchange mutual insights with western medicine.

I am a down-to-earth Chinese doctor, and I have been practicing for some thirty years. From China, to Japan, then to America, I have always been working in the clinical field. I acknowledge with sincerity that western medicine is the mainstream in the world, and in the future. Traditional Chinese Medicine is alternative medicine; we are something different than western medicine. However, just as what post-modern philosophy points out—without a supporting character the main character cannot live well, and could not even exist. Isn’t the fact of western medicine high expenditure a perfect example? History has chosen us, and history has loved us. The demand of a complement to western medicine has given rise to TCM in America. The national healthcare plan proposed has shed light and great care upon us. There is no excuse for us not striving to provide the best of our service.

Dear President, please trust us, we will be your army, your troop. This is another choice of history. Just like history has chosen you. Therefore, we as the whole traditional Chinese Medicine community and all practitioners sharpen ourselves as warriors. We will anchor firmly on the ground, actively seek out, and contribute ourselves mind and soul for a lifetime dedication taking in part of your ambition and blessings to the society.

Sincerely Yours,

Baolin Wu

Sept 16th, 2013

Note: For every "Dr. Wu"appearance on this website and elsewhere, it refers to "Dr. Wu, OMD., L.Ac".