Member Spotlight: Dr. Jane Orient

By Mike Miller

Nov 04

Dr. Jane Orient only needed a few years of working as a staff practitioner in a Veterans Administration hospital in the late 1970s to see that government health care doesn’t work.

When working in the walk-in clinic, Dr. Orient thought her job was to help patients with what was ailing them.

“But in reality, our job was to determine whether their problem was related to a service-connected disability,” says Dr. Orient, now an internal medicine specialist in Tucson, Arizona. “If it wasn’t, we were supposed to send them out of there unless failure to care for them would result in hospital admission very soon.”

Instead, Dr. Orient broke the rules. She helped them however she could.

But that experience, combined with indications that the medical community itself was tending toward a more Marxist attitude toward health care, led Dr. Orient to become involved with the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. She has been AAPS executive director since 1989.

The organization, which has challenged the constitutionality of the new health care law in court, has fought for the preservation of private medicine since 1943.

“I think it probably has delayed the onset of socialized medicine by six decades,” says Dr. Orient, who is now a member of Samaritan Ministries. “It has kept the flame of traditional medical ethics alive.”

The AAPS, which has 3,000 active members, is particularly protective of the patient-physician relationship and fights the intrusion of third parties into the relationship—third parties like health insurance companies or government entitlement programs such as Medicare or Medicaid. Requiring U.S. citizens to purchase health insurance, like the new law requires, is also a violation of that relationship, the AAPS claims.

Dr. Orient has never accepted third-party payment in her practice, which mainly provides consultation and second opinions. She learned early on that “it was really compromising when you put yourself in a position where a third party was paying you, because ‘whose bread I eat, his song I must sing.’”

“Third-party and patients’ interests are mutually contradictory, because the third party benefits from denying care—always,” Dr. Orient says. “That’s the way it’s structured.”

Third parties also will figure largely under the new health care law, which will put the needs of the “collective” ahead of doctors’ consciences and the physician-patient relationship, Dr. Orient says.

“It’s going to change the way physicians work,” she says. “Instead of being paid by their patients, they’re going to be accountable to managed care organizations, which are going to get a pile of money and then divvy it up based on how well you comply with what the third party thinks you should do. You’ll be punished for providing too much for some patients or for not doing the things they think you should do, and one of the things they think that maybe you should do is dehydrate and starve patients to death or withhold medical care from them.

“There will be more federal funding for abortions, more discrimination against people for being elderly or feeble or perhaps having a genetic disease. The whole purpose of the program is to take away from the care of the sick and injured and shovel it into government programs to do ‘good’ by their definition. There’s a whole lot of Marxist ideas that are in the bill and that will be seizing private money to put into programs that promote the undermining of American traditions and culture.”

In its efforts to battle such developments in health care, the AAPS publishes a monthly newsletter, issues action alerts about legislative or regulatory matters affecting medical practice, litigates health care issues, and supports physicians “who have been unjustly prosecuted or attacked by hospital peerage committees.”

The AAPS, for instance, sued over the secrecy of the proceedings of the health care task force created by the Clinton administration in the 1990s. The task force, headed by Hillary Clinton, pushed for Congress to approve a universal health care plan. The AAPS lawsuit helped to “stoke public interest into what was going on there” and slowed the effort down enough so that it could be defeated, Dr. Orient says.

The doctor has tried to influence public understanding of the problems with governmental interference in health care through AAPS, her book YOUR Doctor Is Not In and many articles. But she also has used fiction as a tool, writing three medical-suspense novels with free-lance writer Linda J. Wright: Sutton’s Law, Neomorts, and Moonshine.

“The idea was maybe we could teach people in fiction some things they wouldn’t learn any other way,” Dr. Orient says. “Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged) did that. A lot of novelists have done that.”

The three novels were each self-published because, she says, the authors weren’t willing to do what it takes to break into the fiction market through publishing houses these days—write obscene material.

“If you don’t write like that, publishers aren’t going to want to buy your books,” Dr. Orient says, and she wasn’t willing to go there.

But she also engaged in a bit of prophetic writing in the mid-1990s with YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare. Voicing her concerns about the 1993-94 Clintonian national health care proposals, Dr. Orient could have been writing about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. She warned about rationing of care, loss of freedom for doctors and patients, loss of private profit, a burden on the national deficit, and a squelching of medical innovation—all major concerns about the health care law signed this year.

“And what will you get as a result?” she writes in YOUR Doctor Is Not In. “Let me tell you: a freeway to clinics that dispense aspirin, oat bran, and well-baby checks, with access impeded mainly by traffic jams; roadblocks on the way to the hospital that offers lifesaving technology to the sick and the injured; and higher, more expensive hurdles for new technology that might enable the deaf to hear or the paralyzed to walk.”

The list of her writings is extensive, including homeschool materials such as Professor Klugimkopf’s Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf’s Spelling Method (both part of the Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum); Sapira’s Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis, a medical textbook; and dozens of articles in medical and other kinds of journals. She also has testified before Congress several times as well as a few state legislatures. In addition, she is editor of the AAPS newsletter.

Because of all these other responsibilities, Dr. Orient says she hasn’t developed her practice as much as she could have, devoting more time to her AAPS duties. She expects business to pick up if most of the PPACA is allowed to be implemented. People will be looking for physicians willing to work outside third-party payment arrangements, she says.

“I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing as long as I can,” she says.