I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m not really a political blogger. True, I do from time to time succumb to the blogger’s temptation of being a pundit on current events or pontificating on politics, but in general I don’t do that very often because political bloggers are a dime a dozen and politics isn’t my area of strength. Writing about science and science-based medicine is. That’s part of the reason why I really haven’t said much about the massive health care reform bill that was passed on Sunday or the political process, except when on occasion the utter insanity of it all (such as nonsense about “death panels” or the “Obama = Hitler” rhetoric) irritates me enough to make me break my usual guideline.
That’s why I won’t say that much, even now. Passing judgment on President Obama’s health care plan is not what I’m about, particularly because I’m not really sure what the effect will be. I will, however, say that our current health care system is the worst of both worlds. It’s not really a free market system, given that the government in essence sets reimbursement rates for evrything for Medicare and that Medicare reimbursement rates are generally the starting point for negotiations between hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies for reimbursement rates. So we have a government-regulated and largely government-paid health care system without the one single benefit that a government health care system should be able to produce: Universal or near-universal coverage. At the same time we have a system that is allegedly capitalistic without the one benefit that free competition should provide: Lower prices. The result is a system that is expensive compared to what it delivers and that leaves a lot of people without health insurance because they can’t afford it.
Add to that the stress of the crappiest economy in the last several decades, and there are a lot of people out there without insurance, and when they get sick all too often they are out of luck. I practice in a cancer center that is located in the inner city in an area with some of the highest unemployment in the country. I see how the safety net has shredded in the form of women with breast cancer who don’t have any insurance and aren’t sure how they’ll manage to get the care they need, even with the best efforts of our financial counselors and social workers. That’s why it’s hard for me not to be at least a little bit hopeful that this new law will alleviate that situation. Even though the law itself has numerous flaws, it will result in many more people obtaining health insurance, and it’s something that can be built upon. More importantly, the law actually codifies the principle that every citizen should have access to decent health care.
Of course, whatever objections I have, whatever I might find promising about Obamacare, I can understand some of the opposition to it. No, I can’t understand it when some opponents have actually threatened violence or made racial slurs against black legislators who voted for the law. I also can’t understand why the Republicans shot themselves so gloriously in the foot with an AK-47 by absolutely refusing to go along with (or even negotiate seriously over) a plan that very much resembles the Republican alternative plan proposed as an alternative to President Clinton’s health care plan in the early 1990s and appears to have been largely inspired by Mitt Romney’s health care plan passed in Massachusetts. I thought Republicans were truly cynical and obstructionist in their universal resistance to this legislation and unwillingness to work with the President. I thought some of their most extreme elements were riduculously over the top criticizing the bill itself. But even the Rush Limbaughs of the world have a hard time matching that master of woo-filled paranoid conspiracy theories, Mike Adams. In the wake of Obamacare being passed by the House of Representatives, Adams penned to amazingly nutty screeds, one entitled Health care reform bill dooms America to Pharma-dominated sickness and suffering and Health care dictatorship: A crime against America.
All I can say is: Wow. Is Mike Adams a Tea Party activist?
Get a load of the first article:
Today the medical mafia struck another devastating blow to the health and freedom of all Americans. With the support of an inarguably corrupt Congress that has simply abandoned the real needs of the American people, the sick-care industry has locked in a high-profit scheme of disease and monopoly-priced pharmaceuticals in a nation that can ill afford either one.
And this Pharma-funded betrayal, it turns out, was led by the Democrats. Passed on a 219-212 vote that was only accomplished thanks to closed-door, last-minute secret meetings among the last holdouts, this new legislation puts America under the stranglehold of the medical mafia while doing absolutely nothing to address real health care reform. There is no mention in the bill, for example, of vitamin D for preventing cancer, or orthomolecular medicine for preventing degenerative disease. There’s not even a word about protecting health freedom or ending the century of oppression that has been waged against naturopathic practitioners by the AMA, FDA and FTC.
It’s not for a lack of trying by Tom Harkin and other woo-friendly legislators, who tried very hard to make sure that coverage for “alternative” care and various quackery was included in the bill. Fortunately, they (mostly) failed, but not entirely. After all, the inclusion of coverage for Christian Science prayer apparently remained in the bill. Meanwhile, promoters of quackery tried mightily to persuade legislators to insert various mischief into the bill. Given all of that, it is a huge relief that the bill didn’t mention something as quackalicious as orthomolecular medicine. As for vitamin D for preventing cancer, the bill does contain incentives for preventative care, and vitamin D for preventing cancer, assuming that it is scientifically validated, would fall into that category. That the bill didn’t specifically mention is means nothing; I’m guessing the bill didn’t mention eating your green beans, either.
As for “protecting health freedom,” just remember that the term “health freedom” should be translated as “the freedom of quacks from pesky government regulation or interference.” That’s really all the term “health freedom” means: The freedom to choose quackery, and, more importantly, the freedom to sell quackery, which is where the real money is.
So what is Adams so worked up about? It’s not always easy to tell; in general he just hates science-based medicine or anything that tells him his preferred quackery doesn’t work. This time around, what he’s so ticked off about is the requirement in Obama’s health care reform bill that requires people to purchase health insurance. Now, there are valid reasons to be a bit uneasy about such a requirement, but valid reasons are not what Adams has ever been about. TThe reason he’s so ticked off this time is that the bill requires people to buy health insurance which will pay for–gasp!–conventional medical treatments, including pharma-manufactured drugs that Adams hates so much:
When faced with the problem that our sick-care system doesn’t work, Congress somehow decided that fixing the problem merely involved expanding the failures to include everyone!
And you don’t even get a choice in the matter, either. All Americans are now required to pay into a sick-care system of monopolized, pharmaceutical medicine even if they reject that failed system of medicine. So the healthy people who actually take responsibility for their health are financially penalized and forced to subsidize profits for drug companies!
In his second article, Adams expands upon this theme:
And the legislation that was just passed is focused entirely on how to expand the failed system of drugs and injections so that it causes harm to everyone rather than just those who voluntarily choose to be suckered into it. This is the medical equivalent of a wartime draft that forces soldiers into battle against their will. Except this isn’t a war against some foreign enemy — it’s a war being waged against your body by the pharmaceutical industry, the cancer industry, the surgery pushers and all the corporations that prey upon the public for their sick-care profits.
I can think of lots of reasons to be wary of some aspects of this bill, but not allowing people to opt out because they reject scientific medicine and believe in quackery is not one of them, nor would the failure of the bill to include all the quackery that Mike Adams wants be one of them either. One wonders why Adams is so worked up, given that he lives in Ecuador, where he can stay in the jungle and away from scientific medicine to his heart’s content. It’s not as though he has to worry about the new law as long as he’s living in South America. He can try to live up to his claim:
I’ll argue this point with any doctor from any medical school anywhere in the world: My vitamin D works better than your vaccine! My nutrition works better than your poison. Preventing disease costs a small fraction of the expense required to treat disease that is allowed to develop.
I’d love to see the data upon which Adams bases his claim that his vitamin D works better than a vaccine or that his nutrition works better than “your poision” (by which, I assume, he means chemotherapy for cancer but he could mean other things). While Adams may be correct that it is better to prevent disease rather than treat it, he is unable to demonstrate that his woo does a better job than scientific medicine can potentially do at prevention. Like so many woo-meisters, Adamas also completely coopts diet and exercise, which fall entirely within the purview of science-based medicine, although admittedly he makes it woo by liberally mixing in references to “superfoods,” orthomolecular medicine, chiropractic, and traditional Chinese medicine. He then brags about not carrying health insurance:
Mike Adams and his two dim companions are just so damned smug that it takes an enormous feat of will not to wish cancer upon them when they blather on about how they don’t need chemotherapy and the woman chirps about how she would, if she ever got it, treat cancer “another way,” that way being Gerson therapy. (Good luck with that. As they say, don’t go buying any long playing records.) It is indeed fortunate (for Adams and crew) the that universe in general doesn’t give a rodent’s posterior about my “intent,” being perfectly happy to ignore my fervent wishes that multiple huge NIH grants be rained down upon me because I’m just such an awesome scientist. Lucky for him, Mike and his posse won’t be any more likely to come down with a life-threatening disease like cancer or Lou Gehrig’s disease just because of my nasty thoughts about wiping the smug smirks off of all their faces.
Of course, the most hilarious thing about Adams’ video is the supreme confidence expressed by the “Health Ranger” and his groupies that they will never, ever need health insurance. After all, they’re healthy now! Never mind that right now they’re all relatively young and, like most people, fairly unlikely to become seriously ill until they get much older. They repeatedly ask why they should pay for something they would never use, missing the point that insurance is something that you pay for in case you need it, not when you need it. Personally, I’d be willing to consider letting Adams, Tweedle-dee, and Tweedle-dumber opt out of Obamacare if they would sign a legally binding document swearing that, should they ever develop cancer, diabetes, cardiac disease, or any other serious illness, they would eschew all science-based medicine and pharmaceutical drugs in favor of their woo, like the Gerson therapy, orthomolecular medicine, or whatever.
No post about Mike Adams would be complete without including a passage of grade A, batshit insane rhetoric, and this one will be no exception. So here it is:
I’m afraid — but totally serious — that the best thing that can happen right now for America is for all the old guard drugs-and-surgery doctors and health officials to go get vaccinated and die as quickly as possible so that the younger, more integrative physicians can get into positions of authority and start to make a positive difference. It’s time for a revolution in medicine, and that revolution is never going to happen as long as the very people who defend the current medical mafia remain in power.
Scientific revolutions are often brought about only by the passing away of those who resist progress, and the same is true in medicine. We’ve been stuck in the germ theory of medicine for at least a century, and the AMA has worked diligently to suppress natural healing therapies during those hundred years. But now something has to change. And it will change.
“Stuck with the germ theory of medicine”? Actually, the germ theory has done quite well for us over these last 140 years or so. The sorts of ideas espoused by Adams, not so much.
And speaking of Hell, the dark energies that have been provoked and called upon in this battle for pharmaceutical dominance over the “disease management” of the American population almost seems downright demonic, as if some evil power from other world had been summoned into Washington D.C. to ensure the passage of this legislation that practically guarantees another generation of pain and suffering at the hands of conventional medicine.
All the health solutions that really work — nutritional medicine, orthomolecular therapies, chiropractic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and so on — have been locked out of the system while those therapies that promote a lifetime of disease have been locked in. And in this way, our Congress has now made certain that America as we know it today will not survive another generation — because no nation can achieve greatness when its people are drowning in toxic chemicals and degenerative disease.
That’s right. Adams seems to be arguing that President Obama’s health care reform law comes from…Satan and hell! And don’t forget to bathe in those toxic chemicals. Not only are they yummy but they make you stronger!
I realize that Mike Adams seems at times to be just so incredibly nutty that he represents too easy a target for my tender ministrations. Even so, I would argue that taking him on from time to time serves a purpose, mainly because Adams represents the distillation of many strands of thinking (if you can call it that) and rhetoric that advocates of alt-med frequently express. Adams, for all his vileness, nuttiness, pseudoscience, and conspiracy mongering, represents the purest concentrated form of the unreason that lies at the heart of so much “alternative medicine.” Given that, I believe it’s a good thing to shine the light of day on his insanity from time to time.