Congressional Prevention Caucus a Fabulous Success
The June 24 forum of the Congressional Prevention Coalition was a resounding success--a breakthrough in our efforts to bring prevention-oriented solutions to our federal lawmakers.
Sixty Members of Congress and/or staff members remained in rapt attention for close to two hours.
Moderated by Dr. John Hagelin, the forum was entitled "Stress Prevention: Its Impact on Health and Medical Savings" and featured presentations by Dr. Harold Bloomfield, best-selling author and internationally renowned psychiatrist, who is also the Natural Law Party's 1998 candidate for Governor of California; Dr. Norman Anderson, Associate Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Dr. Lee Lipsenthal, Medical Director of Dean Ornish's Preventive Medicine Research Center; and Dr. Robert Schneider, Medical Director of the Center for Health and Aging Studies at Maharishi University of Management, who has conducted multiple NIH-funded studies on the effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness, of the Transcendental Meditation program in treating hypertension and heart disease.
The research presented by Dr. Schneider and Dr. Bloomfield was overwhelmingly powerful. Legislators were eager to discuss the practicalities of how, specifically, coverage for this type of verifiably effective and cost-effective prevention could be incorporated into national medical policy.
Dr. Hagelin publicly debunked the myth of the "relaxation response," presenting a meta-analysis of hundreds of studies that showed striking differences in effectiveness of different meditation and stress reduction programs in preventing and and treating disease. "If prevention is ever to be cost-effective, Congress must target prevention programs that actually work," Dr. Hagelin said.
As an example of a program that should not be funded, Dr. Hagelin cited research on the relaxation response conducted by Dr. Herbert Benson's own colleagues at Harvard, showing that Dr. Benson's generic relaxation technique was no different from placebo.
The Coalition's Congressional sponsors were so excited by both the turnout and the response from those present that they immediately asked Dr. Hagelin and his Institute to organize more caucuses. Future Congressional forums are now being planned on genetic engineering, effective crime prevention, and "Primary Prevention--Changing the Paradigm," a forum designed to shift the way in which the Congressional Budget Office "scores" programs for cost-effectiveness, a process that currently emphasizes short-term expenditures over long-term savings.
We send our deepest thanks to all Natural Law Party supporters who contacted their Senators and Representatives and urged them to attend this caucus. Thanks also to Dr. Sarina Grosswald, whose 1996 Congressional race gave birth to the Congressional Prevention Coalition, and to Ms. Elizabeth Rice Arnold and Mr. Tom Carlisle for their tireless organizational efforts.
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