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Category: Health Policy

The Voice of Democracy is Young and Female

By MIKE MAGEE

“Don’t call me a saint,” said founder of the early 1930’s Catholic Workers Movement, Dorothy Day. “I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” Oddly enough, says Jesuit writer, James Martin, “That quote is probably the biggest obstacle to her canonization…Given that quote, would Dorothy really want to be canonized?”

This week’s election results were a sliver of bright light in what has been a rather dark period. But it is at times like this that quiet heroes emerge. If courage has a face, this morning, as results across the land show a sweeping victory for Democrats, and specifically those advancing the cause of women’s autonomy in managing their own health decisions with their doctors, it belongs to a young woman from Kentucky named Hadley.

In the final weeks of the Kentucky governor’s race, as Politico reported, Andy Beshear gave voice to the woman who directly addressed his opponent on camera.  “Anyone who believes there should be no exceptions for rape and incest could never understand what it’s like to stand in my shoes. This is to you, Daniel Cameron. To tell a 12-year-old girl she must have the baby of her stepfather who raped her is unthinkable.”

Absorbing the results of the elections with the rest of us are Governor Chris Christie, Governor Ron DeSantis, Ambassador Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Senator Tim Scott who took the stage last Wednesday evening in Miami at the 3rd Republican Primary Debate. No doubt they are surrounded by consultants trying to figure out how best to spin this issue. As Dobbs has played out in states like Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin and beyond, political scientists are likely reminding that in politics, “Sometimes when you win, you lose.”

Court packing on a federal level, and even more importantly by Republican leaders on the state level, has tipped the power of our nation toward minority rule, allowing repugnant leaders to seize control of our legal system. That power has been used over the past decade to allow passage of laws that attack existing rights such as women’s power and autonomy over their own bodies, or construct barriers that obstruct the popular will of the people.  Examples include promoting  extreme gerrymandering and voter suppression, dead ending the Dream Act, or allowing citizen access to weapons of war and a permitless gun-carry law in Florida.

Understandably, citizens have wondered, “Will our Democracy die.” Hadley’s courageous decision reflects a stubborn and determined stance, by she and many others throughout this land, to assure the answer is, “No. Not on my watch!”

Her image and words will be lasting for three major reasons. They prove that:

  1. A healthy democracy requires participation and engagement of citizens.
  2. Freedom and autonomy, including access to health professionals, is sacred and personal.
  3. Women will not accept second class citizenship.

Trump no doubt remains unaware that he has lost everything. Many of his most ardent supporters, including Leonard Leo, the mastermind behind the court packing scheme that brought us the Dobbs decision, remain firmly in a state of denial. But even they must admit this morning, as they stare into Hadley’s eyes, and listen to her steady voice, they have met their match. And she is a young woman who’s message is clear, “Enough is enough!”

Likely channeling another woman’s spirit from a century ago, Hadley’s courage (listen here) was more human than super-human. As Dorothy Day quietly proclaimed, “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”

Mike Magee MD is a Medical Historian and regular contributor to THCB. He is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside America’s Medical Industrial Complex.

Will the AMA Support A Move Toward Single Payer Health Care?

By MIKE MAGEE

The Politico headline in 2019 declared dramatically, “The Most Powerful Activist in America is Dying.” This week, 4 1/2 years later, their prophecy came true, as activist Ady Barkan succumbed at age 39 to ALS leaving behind his vibrant wife, English professor, Rachael King, and two small children, Carl,7, and Willow,3.

His journey, as one of the nation’s leading activists for a single-payer health care system began, not coincidentally, began with his diagnosis of A.L.S. in 2016, 4 months after the birth of his first child. His speech at the Democratic National Convention fully exposed his condition to a national audience.

His mechanized words that day were direct, “Hello, America. My name is Ady Barkan, and I am speaking to you through this computer voice because I have been paralyzed by a mysterious illness called A.L.S. Like so many of you, I have experienced the ways our health care system is fundamentally broken: enormous costs, denied claims, dehumanizing treatment when we are most in need.”

Three years later, with remarkable self-awareness, he told New York Times reporter, Tim Arango,  “That’s the paradox of my situation. As my voice has gotten weaker, more people have heard my message. As I lost the ability to walk, more people have followed in my footsteps.”

His was a shared sacrifice, laced with stubborn and very public persistence, under the banner, “Be A Hero.” His passage on November 1, 2023, was bracketed that day by a piece by veteran Healthy Policy guru, and columnist for KFF Health News, Julie Rovner, that certainly would have made Ady smile. In the Washington Post newsletter, Health 202, it read, “The AMA flirts with a big change: Embracing single payer health care.” 

The commentary that follows includes this, “That leftward shift in political outlook is showing up not just in the AMA, but in medicine as a whole. As the physician population has become younger, more female and less White, doctors (and other college graduates in medicine) have moved from being a reliable Republican constituency to a more reliable Democratic one.”

Ironically, the AMA’s lead journal JAMA last week reinforced the need for simplification with an article by luminary KFF health policy pros, Larry Levitt and Drew Altman, titled “Complexity in the US Health Care System Is the Enemy of Access and Affordability.” They write, “Health care simplification does not necessarily resonate in the same way as rallying cries for universal coverage or lower health care prices, but simplifying the system would address a problem that is frustrating for patients and is a barrier to accessible and affordable care.”

My friend and colleague at THCB, Kim Bellard took off on the article, writing, “Health insurance is the target in this case, and it is a fair target, but I’d argue that you could pick almost any part of the healthcare system with similar results. Our healthcare system is perfect example of a Rube Goldberg machine, which Merriam Webster defines as ‘accomplishing by complex means what seemingly could be done simply.’ Boy howdy.”

A bit further on, Kim comments, “If we had a magic wand, we could remake our healthcare system into something much simpler, much more effective, and much less expensive. Unfortunately, we not only don’t have such a magic wand, we don’t even agree on what that system should look like. We’ve gotten so used to the complex that we can no longer see the simple.”

As Kim suggests, status quo is hard to crack. But change has been in the air for some time. A KFF supported 2017 survey of 1,033 US physicians by Merritt Hawkins revealed a plurality of physicians favored moving on to a single payer system. Why? The survey suggested four factors:

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About That New Generation of Clinicians

By KIM BELLARD

I saw a report last week – Clinician of the Future 2023 Education Edition, from Elsevier Healththat had some startling findings, and which didn’t seem to garner the kind of coverage I might have expected.  Aside from Elsevier’s press release and an article in The Hill, I didn’t see anything about it.  It’s worth a deeper look.

The key finding is that, although 89% say they are devoted to improving patients’ lives, the majority are planning careers outside patient care.  Most intend to say in healthcare, mind you; they just don’t see themselves staying in direct patient care.

We should be asking ourselves what that tells us.

The report was based on a survey of over 2,000 medical and nursing students, from 91 countries, as well as two roundtable sessions with opinion leaders and faculty in the United States and United Kingdom.  Since I’m in the U.S. and think most about U.S. healthcare, I’ll focus mostly on those respondents, except when they’re not split out or where the U.S. responses are notably different.

Overall, 16% of respondents said they are considering quitting their medical/nursing studies (12% medical, 21% nursing), but the results are much worse in the U.S, especially for medical students – 25% (nursing students are still 21%).  That figure is higher than anywhere else. Globally, a third of those who are considering leaving are planning to leave healthcare overall; it’s closer to 50% in the U.S.

Tate Erlinger, vice president of clinical analytics at Elsevier, noted: “There were several things [that] sort of floated to the top at least that caught my attention. One was sort of the cost, and that’s not limited to the U.S., but the U.S. students are more likely to be worried about the cost of their studies.”  Overall, 68% were worried about the cost of their education, but the figure is 76% among U.S. medical students (and for UK medical students).  

Having debt from their education is a factor, as almost two-thirds of nursing students and just over half of medical students are worried about their future income as clinicians, with U.S. medical students the least worried (47%).

It’s worth noting that 60% are already worried about their mental health, and the future is daunting: 62% see a shortage of doctors within ten years and 64% see a shortage of nurses. Globally, 69% of students (65% medical, 72% nursing) are worried about clinician shortages and the impact it will have on them as clinicians.

Where it gets really interesting is when asked: “I see my current studies as a stepping-stone towards a broader career in healthcare that will not involve directly treating patients.” Fifty-eight percent (58%) agreed (54% medical, 62% nursing). Every region was over 50%. In the U.S., the answer was even higher – 61% overall (63% medical, 60% nursing).

Dr. Sanjay Desai, one of the U.S. roundtable panelists, said: “I know this might evolve as they go through their education, but 6 out of 10 in school, when we hope that they’re most excited about that career, are looking at it with skepticism. That is surprising to me.” 

Me too.

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Rube Goldberg Would Be Proud

By KIM BELLARD

Larry Levitt and Drew Altman have an op-ed in JAMA Network with the can’t-argue-with-that title Complexity in the US Health Care System Is the Enemy of Access and Affordability. It draws on a June 2023 Kaiser Family Foundation survey about consumer experiences with their health insurance. Long stories short: although – surprisingly – over 80% of insured adults rate their health insurance as “good” or “excellent,” most admit they have difficulty both understanding and using it. And the people in fair or poor health, who presumably use health care more, have more problems.

Health insurance is the target in this case, and it is a fair target, but I’d argue that you could pick almost any part of the healthcare system with similar results. Our healthcare system is perfect example of a Rube Goldberg machine, which Merriam Webster defines as “accomplishing by complex means what seemingly could be done simply.”   

Boy howdy.

Health insurance is many people’s favorite villain, one that many would like to do without (especially doctors), but let’s not stop there. Healthcare is full of third parties/intermediaries/middlemen, which have led to the Rube Goldberg structure.

CMS doesn’t pay any Medicare claims itself; it hires third parties – Medicare Administrative Contactors (formerly known as intermediaries and carriers). So do employers who are self-insured (which is the vast majority of private health insurance), hiring third party administrators (who may sometimes also be health insurers) to do network management, claims payment, eligibility and billing, and other tasks.

Even insurers or third party administrators may subcontract to other third parties for things like provider credentialing, utilization review, or care management (in its many forms). Take, for example, the universally reviled PBMs (pharmacy benefit managers), who have carved out a big niche providing services between payors, pharmacies, and drug companies while raising increasing questions about their actual value.

Physician practices have long outsourced billing services. Hospitals and doctors didn’t develop their own electronic medical records; they contracted with companies like Epic or Cerner. Health care entities had trouble sharing data, so along came H.I.E.s – health information exchanges – to help move some of that data (and HIEs are now transitioning to QHINs – Qualified Health Information Networks, due to TEFCA).

And now we’re seeing a veritable Cambrian explosion of digital health companies, each thinking it can take some part of the health care system, put it online, and perhaps make some part of the healthcare experience a little less bad. Or, viewed from another perspective, add even more complexity to the Rube Goldberg machine. 

On a recent THCB Gang podcast, we discussed HIEs. I agreed that HIEs had been developed for a good reason, and had done good work, but in this supposed era of interoperability they should be trying to put themselves out of business. 

HIEs identified a pain point and found a way to make it a little less painful. Not to fix it, just to make it less bad. The healthcare system is replete with intermediaries that have workarounds which allow our healthcare system to lumber along. But once in place, they stay in place. Healthcare doesn’t do sunsetting well.

Unlike a true Rube Goldberg machine, though, there is no real design for our healthcare system. It’s more like evolution, where there are no style points, no efficiency goals, just credit for survival. Sure, sometimes you get a cat through evolution, but other times you get a naked mole rat or a hagfish. Healthcare has a lot more hagfish than cats.

I’m impressed with the creativity of many of these workarounds, but I’m awfully tired of needing them. I’m awfully tired of accepting that complexity is inherent in our healthcare system.

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Some Like It Hot! A Century-Old Disease on Our Southern Shores

By MIKE MAGEE

Naomi Orestes PhD, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, didn’t mince words  as she placed our predicament in context when she said, “If you know your Greek tragedies you know power, hubris, and tragedy go hand in hand. If we don’t address the harmful aspects of human activities, most obviously disruptive climate change, we are headed for tragedy.”

At the time, as a member of the Anthropocene Workgroup, she and a group of international climate scientists were focused on defining and measuring nine “planetary boundaries,” environmental indicators of planetary health. At the top of the list was Climate Change because, one way or another, it negatively impacts the other eight measures.

Not the least of these “human perturbations” is the effect of global warming on access to clean, safe water, and the impact of violent weather cycles and rising sea levels on concentrated urban populations along coastal waters.

A less recognized, but historically well documented threat, is exposure to migrating vectors of disease as they contact unprepared human populations beyond their traditional camping grounds. The threat of avian flu among migratory birds has been well covered. Equally, over the past decade, North America has seen a range of novel infections, especially along our southern borders, from dengue, to chikungunya, to Zika.

The southern United States and its coastal populations are firmly in the cross-hairs. Their seas are rising at an alarming rate, and fouling fresh water supply with invasive sea water. Their soaring temperatures are only exceeded by record setting atmospheric river rainfalls and flooding events, and their “extreme poverty throughout Texas and the Gulf Coast states, where inadequate or low-quality housing, absent or broken window screens, and a pervasive dumping of tires in poor neighborhoods,” as reported in this weeks New England Journal of Medicine, assures a reemergence of one of this countries most significant, but now long forgotten killer diseases.

In 1853, the disease killed 11,000 in New Orleans, some 10% of the population. Twenty-five years later, it overwhelmed Mississippi Valley cities killing 20,000. Its latest major foray in the United States was in 1905 with 1000 deaths. Its’ absence over the past century is credited to public health and structural and engineering advances. But that was then, and this is now.

The disease is Yellow Fever, and red lights are blinking in a range of southern coastal cities from Galveston, TX, to Mobile, AL, to New Orleans, LA and Tampa, FL.. Experts say they may soon be in the same boat as Brazil was between 2016 and 2019 when it experienced a threefold increase in the historic prevalence of the disease among its population.

Public Health sleuths have uncovered that the 1878 epidemic in the Mississippi Valley was triggered by an El Nino spike the year prior. The warmer and wetter conditions are believed to have supported a large increase in Aedis aegypti mosquitos, the vector for the Yellow Fever virus.

Are we prepared? Recent experience in fighting Dengue fever in the southern statesis not encouraging, with WHO chief scientist Jeremy Farrar warning that Dengue might soon “take off” absent better mosquito eradication and screening prevention. U.S. Public Health experts say a Dengue foothold is nearly secured and the disease is fast on its way to becoming endemic in southern coastal states.

As for Yellow Fever, there is an effective vaccine, but it is also associated with rare but serious side effects. Antivaccine activism post-Covid would be a significant barrier now say experts. Adding to the challenge, no Yellow Fever vaccine is currently available from the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile. Mosquito surveillance programs are currently marginal, and response capabilities for mass vaccination in affected areas are severely limited.

The Anthropocene Workgroup is fully aware of these human instigated crises. In the prior Holocene Epoch of 11,700, we prided ourselves with being able to co-exist with other lifeforms and in equilibrium with a healthy planet. But beginning in 1950, the new Anthropocene Epoch has aggressively chipped away at planetary health, disrupting stabilizing cycles, and critically raising the temperature and acidity of oceans that cover and buffer 70% of the planet.

The return of Aedes aegypti, and the Yellow Fever virus it carries, is a dramatic harbinger of additional challenges to come if we are unable to limit “human perturbations” of our planetary cycles.

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Mike Magee MD is a Medical Historian and regular THCB contributor. He is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside America’s Medical Industrial Complex.

Jean-Claude Saghbini, Lumeris

Jean-Claude Saghbini is the CTO of Lumeris and also the President, Lumeris Value-Based Care Enablement. Lumeris has been in business quite a while now, providing the technology which (in general) hospitals and medical groups use to manage to their workflows predominantly for Medicare Advantage. It also owns a big medical group (Essence in St Louis) and has close connections with John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins fame, whose brother was involved in its formation. Kleiner also funded Healtheon (the precursor to WebMD) of which current Lumeris CEO Mike Long was the founding CEO. I interviewed Jean-Claude at HLTH to get the update on Lumeris. How are they helping those providers manage their patients at risk? How are those providers actually getting paid? And how that makes them behave. Plus his views on how CMS is adjusting the way Medicare scores and pays his clients! Matthew Holt

CMS’s Policy on Mental Health Therapists Will Work

By JON KOLE

Nearly 66 million Americans are currently enrolled in Medicare, a number that will likely swell towards 80 million Americans within the next seven years. These are our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends – and, maybe, you. 

A significant portion of these millions of people need mental health services – and, yet, many face long wait times or aren’t able to find a therapist at all. On average, Americans have a waiting period of 48 days before receiving mental health care. At present, two notable provider groups – Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) and Mental Health Counselors (MHCs), which summed to approximately 415,000 in 2021 – have not been eligible to provide psychotherapy for people with Medicare.

Currently, Medicare only approves psychologists and masters-level Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) to provide therapy to Medicare recipients. In July, CMS proposed policies that would significantly increase access to mental health services by adding MFTs and MHCs into the ranks of Medicare-eligible providers.  At a time where access to mental health services is acutely limited, it is startling that such a large pool of providers with advanced specialized degrees are not allowed to provide care.

There are many similarities between LCSWs and MFT/MHC training. In addition to an undergraduate degree, LCSWs, MFTs and MHCs have completed a two-year Master’s program, which is then followed by two years of supervised clinical practice prior to taking a licensure exam in their relevant discipline. Once they pass that test, they are able to practice independently in a wide range of settings.

Adding these trained professionals to the roster of available providers is a meaningful step to improve access to mental health services for Medicare members.

Improving access is not just about getting to a provider, though, t’s also about getting connected to one that a patient can feel safe with, connected to, and build a strong working rapport with. According to AAMFT, the satisfaction rate among patients engaged in care with a MFT is exceptionally high, with nearly 90% reporting an improvement in their emotional health after receiving treatment.

One key element in patient-provider connection is allowing options for demographic matching. Studies have shown that when patients from ethnic/racial minority backgrounds are able to connect with providers who share similar demographics, they report better health outcomes and increased satisfaction with the care provided. In one analysis, data gathered from Black caregivers showed 83 percent felt that having a mental health provider of the same race and ethnicity was important, citing themes like relatability, diversity in cultural experiences and the overall patient experience.Adding MFTs and MHCs has the potential to improve demographic matching, given that these are more diverse groups than PhDs or LCSWs.

Given the overall supply-demand imbalance, which is only predicted to get worse, the time is now to ensure that the entire qualified mental health labor force is able to work with Medicare recipients. The CMS proposal would do that. 

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GoodWill’s Lessons for Health Care

By KIM BELLARD

The New York Times had an interesting profile this weekend about how Goodwill Industries is trying to revamp its online presence – transitioning from its legacy ShopGoodwill.com to a new platform GoodwillFinds — in the amidst of numerous other online resellers.  It zeroed in on the key distinction Goodwill has:

But Goodwill isn’t doing this just because it wants to move into the 21st century. More than 130,000 people work across the organization, while two million people received assistance last year through its programs, which include career navigation and skills training. Those opportunities are funded through the sales of donated items.

Moreover, the article continued: “Last year, Goodwill helped nearly 180,000 people through its job services.” 

In case you weren’t aware, Goodwill has long had a mission of hiring people who otherwise face barriers to employment, such as veterans, those who lack job experience or educational qualifications, or have handicaps.  As it says in its mission statement, it “works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.”

As PYMNTS wrote earlier this month: “Every purchase made through GoodwillFinds initiates a chain reaction, providing job training, resume assistance, financial education, and essential services to individuals in need within the community where the item was contributed.” 

I want healthcare to have that kind of commitment to patients.

Healthcare claims to be all about patients. You won’t find many that openly talk about profits or return on equity. Reading mission statements of healthcare organizations yield the kinds of pronouncements one might expect.  A not-entirely random sample:

Cleveland Clinic: “to be the best place for care anywhere and the best place to work in healthcare.”

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There Needs to Be an “AI” in “Med Ed”

By KIM BELLARD

It took some time for the news to percolate to me, but last month the University of Texas San Antonio announced that it was creating the “nation’s first dual program in medicine and AI.” That sure sounds innovative and timely, and there’s no question that medical education, like everything else in our society, is going to have to figure out how to incorporate AI. But, I’m sorry to say, I fear UTSA is going about it in the wrong way.

UTSA has created a five year program that will result in graduates obtaining an M.D. from UT Health San Antonio and a Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (M.S.A.I.) from UTSA. Students will take a “gap year” between the third and fourth year of medical school to get the M.S.A.I. They will take two semesters in AI coursework, completing a total of 30 credit hours: nine credit hours in core courses including an internship, 15 credit hours in their degree concentration (Data Analytics, Computer Science, or Intelligent & Autonomous Systems) and six credit hours devoted to a capstone project.

“This unique partnership promises to offer groundbreaking innovation that will lead to new therapies and treatments to improve health and quality of life,” said UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken.

“Our goal is to prepare our students for the next generation of health care advances by providing comprehensive training in applied artificial intelligence,” said Ronald Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D., director of the M.D./M.S. in AI program and professor of medical education at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “Through a combined curriculum of medicine and AI, our graduates will be armed with innovative training as they become future leaders in research, education, academia, industry and health care administration. They will be shaping the future of health care for all.”

Dhireesha Kudithipudi, a professor in electrical and computer engineering who was tasked with helping develop the university’s AI curriculum, told Preston Fore of Fortune:

In lots of scenarios, you might see AI capabilities are being very exaggerated—that it might replace physicians and so forth. But I think our line of inquiry was guided in a different way, in a sense how we can promote this AI physician interaction-AI patient interaction, bringing humans to the center of the loop, and how AI can enhance care or emphasize more patient centric attention.

OK, fabulous.  But, you know, computers have been integral to healthcare for decades, especially the past 15 years (due to EMRs), and we don’t expect doctors to get Masters in Computer Science. We’re just happy when they can figure out how to navigate the interfaces. 

To be honest, I was expecting more from UT.

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The “Green Pope” Loves Science and Is Cautious of AI

By MIKE MAGEE

By all accounts, they were mutually supportive. He was three years older and the chief scientific adviser to the world’s most powerful religious leader. The Scientific American called him “the greatest scientist of all time,” and not because he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry a decade earlier for explaining the nuts and bolts of ozone formation. It was his blunt truthfulness and ecological advocacy that earned the organization’s respect.

Paul Crutzan is no longer alive. He died on February 4, 2021 in Mainz, Germany at the age of 87. What attracted the 86 year old “Green Pope” to Paul were three factors that were lauded at his death in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) – “the disruptive advancement of science, the inspiring communication of science, and the responsible operationalization of science.”

It didn’t hurt that Crutzan was pleasant – or as the The Royal Society in its obituary simply described him: “a warm hearted person and a brilliant scientist.”

In 2015, he was Pope Francis’s right arm when the Catholic leader, who had purposefully chosen the name of the Patron Saint of Ecology as his own, was briefed on the Anthropocene Epoch. Crutzen had christened the label five years earlier to brand a post-human planet that was not faring well.

Crutzen was one of 74 scientists from 27 nations and Taiwan who formed the elite Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2015. Those selected were a Who’s Who of the world’s scientific All-Stars including 14 Nobel recipients, and notables like Microbiologist Werner Arber, physicist Michael Heller, geneticist Beatrice Mintz, biochemist Maxine Singer, and astronomer Martin Rees.

On May 24, 2015, they delivered their climate conclusions to the Pope, face to face. The Pope heard these words, “We have a collection of experts from around the world who are concerned about climate change. The changes are already happening and getting worse, and the worst consequences will be felt by the world’s 3 billion poor people.”

The next month, with his release of the encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis began by embracing science, with these words, “I am well aware that in the areas of politics and philosophy there are those who firmly reject the idea of a Creator, or consider it irrelevant, and consequently dismiss as irrational the rich contribution which religions can make towards an integral ecology and the full development of humanity. Others view religions simply as a subculture to be tolerated. Nonetheless, science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both.”

Further along, he celebrates scientific progress with these remarks, “We are the beneficiaries of two centuries of enormous waves of change: steam engines, railways, the telegraph, electricity, automobiles, aeroplanes, chemical industries, modern medicine, information technology and, more recently, the digital revolution, robotics, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. It is right to rejoice in these advances and to be excited by the immense possibilities which they continue to open up before us”

But then comes the hammer: “Any technical solution which science claims to offer will be powerless to solve the serious problems of our world if humanity loses its compass, if we lose sight of the great motivations which make it possible for us to live in harmony, to make sacrifices and to treat others well.”

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