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Cancer Medicine Quackery Television

My Cancer Free Life: Reality docuseries as a commercial for cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski

When I first encountered Stanislaw Burzynski and the Burzynski Clinic around a decade ago, I didn’t know what to make of him. Sure, he seemed quacky, with all the testimonials of miracle cures and the claims that he cured deadly brain cancers like diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) that conventional oncology could do no more than palliate. Sure, it was rather odd that he had never done a fellowship in oncology or an oncology-related specialty. However, he was a Polish expat who seemingly was an excellent student, and he did have a brief career as a real cancer researcher at Baylor in the early 1970s, during which he discovered the treatment for cancer (or so he thought) that led him to abandon Baylor around 1977 and set up a manufacturing facility to produce the treatment, which he had dubbed antineoplastons. He also set up a clinic to administer them to patients, even though antineoplastons were not FDA-approved and for which, at best, Burzynski only had some relatively weak in vitro evidence of anticancer activity. It’s a story that I wrote about in detail for Skeptical Inquirer four years ago. Let’s just put it this way: more than forty years later, Burzynski has still failed to produce anything resembling convincing evidence that his antineoplastons are effective against cancer, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to charge massive “management fees” that can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to administer antineoplastons to desperate cancer patients. Neither have multiple investigations by the FDA and the Texas Medical Board (TMB) driven him out of business. Indeed, the most recent attempt by the Texas Medical Board to shut him down ended a year and a half ago in failure. Despite his having to pay a $360,000 fine and agree to submit to monitoring of his billing practices, to complete a medical ethics course (hilarious!), inform his patients that he owns the pharmacy he requires them to use, and submit his informed consent forms to the TMB for review, he’s still out there attracting desperate cancer patients to his clinic. He even has a local TV station, KHOU-TV, running on its morning show Great Day Houston what is basically an advertisement for a new “reality” series called My Cancer Free Life, which is being produced by Uchenna Agu and features at least two Burzynski Clinic patients, Bo Edwards and Douglas Kruse, as testimonials for Burzynski’s “miracle cures.”

Here is the segment, which aired last week:

I had so many questions as I watch this eight-minute segment on Great Day Houston. Let’s dig in, but, before I discuss the segment above in depth, let’s first go through a little background regarding Burzynski and the media.

KHOU-TV has a history of promoting Burzynski

The first thing I wanted to know was why a local Houston TV station was promoting Stanislaw Burzynski. I had forgotten about it, but KHOU-TV has a long history of doing puff pieces on the Burzynski Clinic, so much so that Houston Press reporter Craig Malisow has even called them “B-jobs.” For instance, here’s a story from 2009 entitled “Controversial cancer doc: Proof on the way that urine treatment works.” Its tagline? “Every day, cancer patients from all over the U.S. come to Houston for treatment. But some drive right past MD Anderson and head for Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s clinic.” It’s a story full of false balance, with Burzynski touting how he’s going to show that his antineoplastons work interspersed with a doctor from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center saying that there is no evidence that it works. It, too, raised the ire of Malisow, and rightly so. Remember, too, that this was more than thirty years after Burzynski broke away from Baylor and started selling his treatments himself. In 2014, KHOU ran a story about how grateful Stanislaw Burzynski was for having gotten to meet Pope John Paul II in the 1980s and in 1996. Here’s an excerpt:

Burzynski was recommended to the Vatican at a time when the Pope was rumored to be sick with colon cancer. The doctor was known for unconventional treatments, which did not involve surgery or chemotherapy.

“The government wasn’t too nice for my husband s discovery,” said Dr. Barbara Burzynski, Burzynski’s wife.

His treatments called Personalized Cancer Therapy are different from every other doctor. He said they target certain cancer cells to stop them from growing. Government officials and the medical community claimed his methods didn’t work or at least, there wasn’t any proof they did.

“I was being accused of a variety of things which I did not commit,” he said.

Thankfully the pope did not have cancer. But for his willingness to help, Burzynski was blessed with a medal from John Paul’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, which he feels is a strong endorsement of his techniques.

Yes, this really did happen. Also, let’s just say that the Catholic Church or any other religion should not be trusted as a reliable guide to good medicine.

Also in 2014, KHOU-TV ran this nine-minute segment, “Overcoming cancer with the help of Dr. Burzynski“, which was actually sponsored by the Burzynski Clinic:

This is pure propaganda, basically a brief infomercial for the Burzynski clinic, complete with the host blathering about how other cancer centers are now adopting the methods of the Burzynski Clinic. (More on that later, but for now, I’ll simply call that claim what it is: Nonsense. For example, Burzynski has basically claimed to have invented precision medicine. He did not.) There wasn’t a single bit of misinformation or a single trope in this video segment that I hadn’t heard before. In particular, he claims that he has a 50% five-year survival for brainstem cancers, a claim for which Burzynski has never been able to produce anything resembling convincing evidence. The best evidence he can produce is not that good.

So we know right away that someone high up at KHOU-TV is a believer in Burzynski’s quackery. Since 2016, Great Day Houston‘s producer has been Ralph Garcia, and its executive producer Kathy Richey, which implies it’s someone higher up in the station who’s interested in seeing pro-Burzynski propaganda aired. One wonders if it’s Susan McEldoon, who’s been general manager there since 2007 and will be retiring soon. I couldn’t find any evidence, though. Whatever the situation, it’s clear that KHOU-TV has a thing for Burzynski. Who knows why or who it is who’s responsible?

Who is Uchenna Agu?

I’m guessing that some of my readers recognize the name Uchenna Agu, but I must admit that I had no clue who he was when I first encountered this story. Yes, I was reduced to doing what I always do when I don’t recognize a name: I Googled him. It turns out that Agu’s fame comes from his appearance with his wife Joyce as contestants for The Amazing Race 7 in 2005 (which they apparently won) and later in The Amazing Race All-Stars in 2007. Since I don’t think I’ve watched even a single episode of that show, I had no idea. In any event, he’s also appeared in Push (2014) and Sanitatum (2018). (I know. That didn’t help me either.) Apparently, he’s now a producer and a managing partner at the consulting agency UEA Group.

As for the production companies involved, I noted a couple of interesting things. The blurbs under the story and on the YouTube page suggests Big or Small Media Entertainment LLC (BOSMELLC.com) for more information. Clicking on that link goes to an unclaimed domain and a GoDaddy page. They also mention video from TKGmediaproductions.com, which, it turns out, is owned by someone named Tony Garcia. I can’t help but wonder if he’s related to producer Ralph Garcia in some way.

My Cancer Free Life? It begins.

So let’s get to My Cancer Free Life.

Given that there’s minimal, if any, video footage shown in this segment promoting My Cancer Free Life and I can’t find any with my prodigious Googling skills, I couldn’t help but wonder how early in production this “reality docuseries” is. Usually in cases of a producer, director, or actor doing promotional interviews about his project, he’ll be able to show at least a little footage. True, there is a brief clip at the beginning of the segment of Stanislaw Burzynski himself going on about how when he started it was the “dark ages of cancer treatment”. Whether that was provided by Agu or was stock footage from past KHOU-TV infomercials on Burzynski, I don’t know. It wasn’t revealed. Ditto some footage later in the segment of the Burzynski Clinic. I was impressed at how pedestrian it all looked. In any case, Great Day Houston host Deborah Duncan is next up to introduce the segment, which includes Uchenna Agu and the two Burzynski Clinic patients, Doug Kruse and Bo Edwards.

One thing that became apparent right away is that, unlike a lot of Burzynski Clinic patients, Kruse and Edwards maintain a low social media and Internet profile. Searches for their names plus “cancer” and/or “Stanislaw Burzynski” failed to turn up much other than this segment. Ironically, it turns out that Kruse once did comment on a blog that might be familiar to many of you on a post entitled How is it that in 2018 cancer Stanislaw Burzynski is still preying on desperate cancer patients? (Update). The date of the comment is August 6, 2018:

Dear Doctor. I say again….Hello! I came to Burzynski clinic March 2017 with stage 4 prostate cancer and kidney carcinoma. I responded well to treatment and returned to work at the office in December. This week my CT PET scan results are good and we are concluding treatment. I find several of the comments above blatantly false based on my experiences in being treated meeting with Dr. Burzynski about once a week for over a year. And, I have met in our IV room several who have recovered when standard of care was to go home and die, too. That includes one gentleman from Canada that go over pancreatic cancer as I observed week to week as a co-patient. I have spent the monthly cost for investment and am happy with the results noted. Request: Would you please increase the respectful part of your dialogue? Including complying with your own guidelines for comments and eliminating some of the abusive vocabulary, please. Respectfully, Douglas Kruse Jr. Houston, TX.

Clearly, there’s not much in this comment to help me understand his testimonial other than that Mr. Kruse has stage IV prostate cancer and kidney cancer. It’s not clear if he has both prostate and kidney cancer (which would be very unusual) or prostate cancer that’s metastasized to the kidney (less uncommon). I’ll discuss him more later on based on what he says on this KHOU-TV segment. As for Bo Edwards, I could find basically nothing about him other than links to the KHOU-TV segment. Searches on Facebook and Twitter didn’t yield anything either. It’s almost as though these patients were chosen for how little information about them is publicly available on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and various websites, even pro-Burzynski websites.

My Cancer Free Life? The propaganda is thick.

After we see Burzynski’s smiling face going on about how the sequencing of the human genome was the milestone that revolutionized cancer treatment, Great Day Houston host Deborah Duncan reads an introduction that will make anyone familiar with Stanislaw Burzynski’s four decade scam cringe, so much so that I wondered if Burzynski himself had written it. She basically recounts that Burzynski discovered a gene-targeted cancer therapy back in the 1970s. This is, of course, ridiculous. Contrary to the hagiography of Eric Merola’s two propaganda movies about Burzynski, Burzynski The Movie: Cancer Is A Serious Business and Burzynski: Cancer Is A Serious Business, Part 2, in which it is claimed that Burzynski is a pioneer of “gene-targeted cancer therapy,” Burzynski’s two go-to treatments include the unproven and likely ineffective (antineoplastons) and the “make it up as you go along” (his “gene-targeted therapy“).

Particularly risible have been Burzynski’s arrogant, ego-fueled claims (mindlessly repeated on this segment) that he first described “gene-targeted therapy” and that he invented precision oncology, with major cancer centers like M.D. Anderson only now catching up to his vision. (I first saw this claim in Suzanne Somer’s quackfest of a book, Knockout: Interviews With Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer And How To Prevent Getting It in the First Place.) It’s a message parroted both by Duncan and Agu in this segment, and it’s simply not true. Burzynski is not a “pioneer” in personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy and never has been. He is most definitely not a pioneer in immunotherapy either, contrary to Agu’s assertion. That the segment starts out with a message painting Burzynski as a scientist ahead of his time tells me that what I’m seeing is propaganda far more than journalism and that Agu’s docuseries will apparently preach this message tells me that Agu is more akin to Eric Merola than to a serious producer, at least when it comes to Burzynski. Let’s just put it this way. If Burzynski had never been born, major cancer centers would be embracing precision medicine and immunotherapy now in exactly the same way, mainly because Burzynski has had zero positive effect on oncology.

When the camera pans out to show all the guests for the first time, my first reaction upon seeing Bo Edwards was that he looks very, very sick. Inexplicably, his whole right arm is bandaged with and he has a catheter in place that is hooked up to a black bag that he’s carrying. It makes me wonder if he’s getting a continuous infusion of antineoplastons. In any event, he looks gaunt, and there’s something funny about how his loose shirt sits on his bandaged right arm. Certainly, he does not look the way that Agu describes him (and Kruse), “cured of cancer”.

In any event, we learn from Bo Edwards that the reason he went to the Burzynski Clinic after being diagnosed with stage IV cancer (type not yet specified) was because a friend of his wife with stage IV cancer (type not specified) had gone there 18 years ago and was cured. In any event, he was told that he could have chemotherapy (which probably wouldn’t work); he could have radiation (which would likely only prolong his life marginally); or he could have radical surgery that would involve removing his arm, shoulder, and part of his upper chest. When I heard this, all I could think of was forequarter amputation, the same operation recommended to Jessica Ainscough, whose promotion of “holistic health” and alternative medicine led her to be known in Australia as the Wellness Warrior. She ultimately died of her disease after a very prolonged course, but what had frightened her from conventional treatment was the prospect of a forequarter amputation, a brutal operation that is rarely performed these days. Seeing Edwards’ bandaged arm and hearing the recommendation that he have what sure sounded like a forequarter amputation, made me wonder if he has what Ainscough had, epithelioid sarcoma. In any event, the fact that he was offered such radical surgery suggested to me that he has some sort of sarcoma involving his upper arm and that he doesn’t have metastases to distant organs. If he did, there’s no way such radical surgery would even be considered.

So when was Bo Edwards diagnosed? It turns out that it wasn’t that long ago. He was given the three options, according to his story, in January 2018, only nine months ago. That’s an awfully short time to be declared cured of any cancer. We’re also shown zero evidence that Edwards is, in fact, cancer-free, as he claims. If he were cancer-free, I wonder, why is his arm bandaged and why is he still hooked up to an infusion device? As Edwards finished telling his story, I couldn’t help but feel a wave of sorrow and empathy for him. He really believes he’s been cured, and I hope he is, but everything about his story suggests otherwise and that he’s just been fortunate thus far. I also couldn’t help but notice that the Great Day Houston bug always seemed to be sitting over Edwards’ other arm, where the infusion catheter was inserted under a bandage.

Mr. Kruse recounted his story next, and it was much as what you read in his comment cited above. He was diagnosed in March 2017. According to him, his wife took him to the emergency room then because his “system shut down” and he had high blood pressure. From the sound of it, he had prostate cancer metastatic to kidney and bone. He added that he was told that he should just go home and grieve with his family. Now, I suppose that’s entirely possible, but it sounds a bit hard to believe. For one thing, prostate cancer, even metastatic prostate cancer, tends to be a slow-growing disease; it’s not that surprising that someone with stage IV prostate cancer could be alive a year and a half after diagnosis. For another thing, treatments for prostate cancer have improved markedly since I was in medical school and residency. At a decent cancer hospital (and, let’s not forget that M.D. Anderson is located in Houston), a patient with stage IV prostate cancer will be told that his disease is indeed incurable, but won’t just be punted home as Edwards described. He’ll be told that we have treatments that can slow down the progression of the disease and that he could have years left.

In fairness, I don’t know the full extent of Kruse’s disease. He didn’t say, either in the blog comment above or on this segment on KHOU-TV. However, whenever I hear a story like his I wonder whether there was a misunderstanding of his prognosis or whether he went to a crappy hospital that doesn’t do a lot of oncology. Again, I have no way of knowing from what I see here. In any event, Kruse’s wife and daughter persuaded him to go to the Burzynski Clinic.

What does Burzynski do differently?

The final part of the segment began with Duncan asking Agu, “What does Dr. Burzynski do differently?” The answer told me just how deep the propaganda will be in this docuseries. I also wasn’t too thrilled to see Agu invoke “right-to-try”. After all, right-to-try is a scam designed to weaken the FDA, and Burzynski has been using it to get around the FDA. Agu then says that there is a DNA test that each patient must take before getting into the Burzynski Clinic and “if you fall within that window, you’re golden.” At this point I was shaking my head and wondering just what the heck Agu was talking about. He seemed to be implying that there was a small “window of opportunity” during which a patient can benefit from Burzynski’s treatments. Given that Burzynski appears to specialize in extracting cash from patients who have advanced cancer, this statement makes little sense.

Duncan also pitched another slow, hanging ball right over the plate by asking, “Why isn’t every treatment facility doing it this way?” If I were on the show, I’d have answered that the reason is simple. Burzynski has never shown anything resembling compelling evidence that his approach works better than what we do now—or even that it works at all. Agu, of course, regurgitated an answer right out of the quackery defense league’s manual about how cancer doctors have developed a “standard way” of treating cancer over the years such that “everyone is ‘this is the way we do it’ and it doesn’t open the door to alternative treatment.” In other words, it’s the same ol’ same ol’. Doctors are too close-minded. Doctors can’t tolerate the competition. Doctors won’t try anything different. He then went on to say that doctors should be referring to Burzynski “on the front end” after a DNA test to see if the patient “fits” (whatever that means).

Apparently, the docuseries won’t just be about Burzynski, either, although clearly it looks as though Burzynski will be a major focus. Agu says he’ll also look at patients who have chosen conventional therapy and other alternative therapies. Anyone want to guess how well the ones who choose conventional therapy will do? I’m sure the selection will not be random. After all, Edwards and Kruse were given the opportunity to have almost the last word, which they took to go on about how Burzynski’s given them hope. Unfortunately, I know otherwise. I know Burzynski. I’ve examined more testimonials by patients of his than I can remember, many of them analyzed right here on this blog. My friend Bob Blaskiewicz, who runs The Other Burzynski Patient Group, has done likewise. Basically, Burzynski’s patients all pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to be treated, often under sham clinical trials designed solely to let Burzynski avoid FDA actions. There is no good evidence that they do better than they would have done without Burzynski.

Conclusion: More Brave Maverick Doctor hagiography

I can’t help but note how vague Edwards’ and Kruse’s testimonials were. There’s so little information provided that I have a hard time figuring out what is going on with them (particularly Edwards with his right arm). I do know, however, that their stories fall into the classic format of alternative cancer cure testimonials, complete with their being told to “go home and die” (as many quacks like to characterize what doctors tell patients with incurable cancer) and then finding the Brave Maverick Doctor Burzynski. It sounds very much as though Agu’s project will end up being much more hagiography than even reality TV or video. Of course, anyone who pays much attention to reality TV should know by now that reality shows are anything but reality and that most are pretty heavily scripted. At the very least, the contestants or characters are very carefully chosen by the producers to fit the demands of the show, whatever they are, humor, conflict, entertainment, or a specific message.

I wish Edward Kruse and Bo Edwards nothing but the best and truly hope that they are the exceptions, rather than the rule, when it comes to Burzynski patients. I also hope that Burzynski doesn’t bankrupt them both before their cancers recur or advance. As for Uchenna Agu, I would urge him to read all the stories on The Other Burzynski Patient Group and to read up about Burzynski’s abuses of clinical trial ethics and selling of cancer quackery for forty years right here. Maybe he’s not beyond hope, even if KHOU-TV in Houston appears to be beyond hope when it comes to shilling for Burzynski. The producers of Great Day Houston and the management of the station should know better, given that they’re in the same city as he is. Unfortunately, in Texas, Burzynski has juice.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

28 replies on “My Cancer Free Life: Reality docuseries as a commercial for cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski”

yes well…in the land of hope & glory… the hope of many have kept this bloke going with his own brand for 40 years it seems ???the fda have had it hard to nail him for all the things u &others are on too him for but his side show rolls on ?? seemingly unstoppable…. this would not happen in australia that i can see ??? or not that i know or have heard of …but of course some hope is better than no hope for any one with a life threatening situation … but he is only one of many in the usa that ply/same things.. cheers happy bob from oz

If I may contribute to this because of my legal background…I read all these individual cases and am dismayed by all this discussion. I am in the US. I think we in the skeptic community need to stop talking and need to start acting. Laws need to be changed, and in the insaneTrump era it is more important than ever to become more activist.

The Trump fanatics have no concept of public health. They are on the verge of dismantling Medicaid and Medicare and are acting contrary to their own interests. They don’t even know it because they are so stupid and uninformed. They are stupid beyond belief. The Republicans have already announced their intention to end Medicaid (for the poor) and Medicare (for everyone else) and completely dismantle the social safety net for our country in an almost breathtaking way. They will face some opposition,but this literally gives me nightmares. Fight this horror, everyone in the US. Please. Please. However you can……..

If I were an arsehole I would say that the US needs a good dose of death, pain and misery, such as the closure of Medicaid and Medicare. After five years without Medicaid and Medicare enough of a majority (the survivors, anyway) might finally, collectively, realise that the free market doesn’t triumph over everything and vote accordingly. If there were a party willing to bring a rational, sufficient degree of safety-net healthcare to the population, anyway.

But I’m not an arsehole, so I can’t say that.

The free market, like Mother Nature, and all the other agent-less forces that shape our world, does not care who lives and who dies. The free market doesn’t even care how many live or die. All the free market “cares” about is profit for shareholders.

Or to put it another way: we tried “Mother Nature”, didn’t like the results and made science (and possibly religion).
We tried unfettered capitalism and the free market and we didn’t like the results so we got regulation (see 19th century America).

But both of those require that people know a bit about history, and most people don’t. Or they only know some bits but not other bits (and you don’t always need all the bits at the same time).

In theory, I completely agree. Once that meager safety net is shredded and the Trump (insane) contingent is personally affected, though, it may be too late to reinstate whatever can be salvaged of the safety net. The insane contingent will have dragged down millions of people with it before the insane contingent (IC) wakes up and realizes it has had its own foot shot off..

Apologies to those outside the US who don’t understand what a present and future horror we are facing….It makes Brexit look like a local village political squabble.

Rationality left the building two years ago. Now we must fight and fight like hell.

Yes. Totally agree. The Trump lunatics seem incapable of understanding that the next targets are Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. They are coming for you, little Trumpettes. They got your votes, stupid ones, and now they are going to shred your old-age and medical safety net. You thought you were immune to their rampage? HAHAHAHAHAHA!! Fools.

Not kidding. That is the actual strategy, and McConnell just said it. It’s now in the public record. This is what you bought, Trumpettes. Here’s the reality. Now deal with your own ignorant folly, stupidos..

My brother is a right-wing arsehole and has unapologetically said several times that it annoys him that Medicaid even exists. This is someone who has complicated and extremely expensive heart problems that Medicare has paid to fix even though he is fully capable of paying to fix his problems from his own treasure.

Gripe: I want rich people to pay for their own problems before they are allowed to tap into the public purse. Poor people have to go bankrupt because someone like him drains the public coffers with his million-dollar problem. He could easily afford to pay this off himself. He has bragged several times about “throwing the IRS a bone” with his business taxes because he has very clever tax lawyers. And then his little trophy wife brags about having everything she needs through Medicare. Pay for your problems yourself. Or is accountability and personal responsibility only for the poor?!?

Rich people need to pay their own way as they hypocritically insist that the poor also do. Disgusting hypocrisy.

My response was an arsehole response. Yeah, you’re right. It was pompous and useless. I hope Google or some other thing will scrub it. I am laughing at myself about my stupid response now after re-reading it, but of course this is serious. Apologies to everyone at RI. It was stupid. I deeply apologize. My brain went on vacation when I posted such a stupid thing.

What do we do about these destructive a-holes who can really hurt people? I have no magic solutions because this kind of idiocy transcends national boundaries/.jurisdictions. I’m still working this out because it is such a global and very serious issue.

I hope you in this community will forgive me for my momentary lapse into utter stupidity. I am committed to campaigning against bad science, pseudoscience, and outright quackery. Apologies to everyone.

I didn’t think your comment was stupid. And my reading of Rich’s comment was that he was agreeing with you, if in an admittedly impractical way.

Your comment was perfectly sensible. You pointed out a very hard problem that will take a lot of work to fix, particularly in the current administration.

To JustaTech–There’s no editing feature on this blog. Wish there could be a way to fix that.
Thank you for your kind feedback.

Big vision problems and can’t always respond in a timely way. Thanks to everyone who responds to my posts.

Sara, I’m sorry, I absolutely did not mean my words to be critical of you. I agree with you. I was trying to express (hopefully with a little cynical dark humour) how unlikely I think it is that in the foreseeable future Americans will get to join the rest of the wealthy, developed nations and have a reasonable social safety net to help ameliorate life’s slings and arrows.

You mentioned Brexit. Unfortunately one of the near inevitable effects of Brexit is that a right-wing UK government will finally be able to sell off the health services their wealthy backers (not to mention foreign fellow-travellers) have for so long had their greedy eye on. It seems we have a shared local village squabble on the horizon.

Give desperate people false hope and extended suffering, all the while cleaning out their net worth and adding a mountain of debt.
Buzynski is just another example of the New Cruelty led by Trump and the Republican Party. Sara, your anger is perfectly justified, IMHO.

Thank you for supporting my point of view. This quack personifies the New Cruelty. We will see many more like him as they crawl out of the woodwork after being hidden for so long. I really fear for people who have few resources and are really sick and dependent on Medicaid. Now Turtle and his ilk are openly declaring war on Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, Trump’s one talent in life is to destroy everything he looks at or touches. He is pure evil–the banality of evil, as Arendt said–because he is too ignorant and stupid to understand the destruction he is causing. Or maybe he does and that is the point. Either way, pure destruction..

To those outside the US: Medicaid is our program for the poor. Medicare is our program for the elderly after age 65. Many physicians here increasingly will not accept either one. It’s becoming very hard to find a doc who will take Medicaid, and I’ve been told that primary care physicians are becoming more reluctant to accept Medicare. You have to shop around in the US. One of my docs refused to treat me last week because through their own mistake they had big problems getting paid by my private insurance company.

If you have nationalized/universal health care, bite the bullet and absorb whatever inconvenience it causes you. Just remember: you could be in the US under our absolutely nightmarish system.

Sara should be more reluctant to just accept what she’s been told (by “a friend of a friend”, to quote her re Barron Trump), and look for more reliable information.

“A whopping 93 percent of primary care physicians accept Medicare – just as many who take private insurance. As a Medicare beneficiary, your only concern with accessing care will be finding doctors that are open to new patients.”

https://www.healthcare.com/info/medicare/do-all-doctors-accept-medicare

The rate at which MDs see Medicare or Medicaid patients varies by state but most docs take patients in either plan.

https://www.mdmag.com/physicians-money-digest/columns/the-doctor-report/10-2016/medicare-and-medicaid-participation-rates-for-doctors-by-state

No, incorrect. It’s a real problem here. Emphasis on HERE. Don’t know where you are. In Florida it’s the Wild West, and they can pick and choose what patients and public funding they want to deal with.

As for Barron. my friend’s kids go to school with him, so I have direct feedback. This is not abstract.

I’m getting really fed up with the arrogance on this blog.

In Florida it’s the Wild West, and they can pick and choose what patients and public funding they want to deal with.

My dad seems not to be having any problem with accessing UF Shands specialty care (or the local urgent-care joint) with Medicare. As for Medicaid in Florida, it didn’t take much convincing to get him to change parties and support Gillum for governor, as this would facilitate my moving to the State of Low Property Taxes, Expensive Beer, and General Death in Life.

Yeah, in this area I haven’t had a problem with Medicaid. I live right over the border from Oregon in WA, but I actually go to a clinic in the town across the river in Oregon, in part because they have a dental clinic that takes Medicaid and when I chose a clinic (the way Apple Care is set up, you’re assigned to a clinic or whatever, but you can choose it) I figured I’d just do one stop shopping.

I’ve been largely very pleased with the care I’ve gotten there, and I’ve gotten a referral to a neurologist, been referred for X-rays, and been referred to an orthopedic doc, all within the Providence hospital system, which as far as I can tell is excellent.

I was unemployed for a while a couple of years ago. My health insurance was ending and I couldn’t afford the COBRA my employer was offering. I was looking at Medicaid. I discussed the matter with my doctor of almost two decades. She explained, that, in my city/county (don’t really know if it it’s city or state), one hospital system has the Medicaid contract. Only providers who are part of that system can take Medicaid. And, of course, it was a different system. She explained that, a few years earlier, she had been able to take Medicaid.

Fortunately, just as my insurance was about to end, I got a new job and didn’t need to explore if further. Maybe she was wrong or maybe I misunderstood.

Hmmm. Is it like car insurance in the UK? I can crash my car but I have to get it repaired at selection of garages specified by my insurance company. Meaning no other garage would be able to bill my insurance company.

Sara, you said “You have to shop around in the US”, implying it’s grievously difficult to find MDs anywhere in the country who’ll accept Medicare or Medicaid patients, which is at best a gross exaggeration.

As for Barron Trump, Paul Offit was gracious enough to apologize for speaking about his alleged medical condition. Even if you knew him personally (which you don’t), it’s not acceptable to discuss a minor’s non-public health record on a public forum.

Dr. Offit made a brief comment that in children of older parents, age likely raises the risk of autism, and mentioned Barron T; he didn’t go into detail and I was unclear if he was simply talking of a possibility or a certainty. There are many examples of journalists discussing medical conditions of minors; parents do it when they appeal for financial contributions on go fund me pages. Where should we draw the line? I hadn’t heard of it before, but this would explain (if anything can explain the thought processes of the person occupying the White House) his antipathy toward vaccines.

Saying one must shop around to find a Doctor who accepts Medicare doesn’t equal “greviously difficult” but in some states, about 30% don’t take Medicare, and finding someone who accepts new patients is even harder. If you were to pick up the phone and try to find someone to take you on as a patient, and made call after call, only to be refused, I dare say you’d think it was difficult. Reading your source certainly made it sound difficult to me.

In any case, can’t we all agree that the United States is the only developed country where we have a hugely expensive and difficult to access medical system where they emphasis is on money and exclusion instead of providing good medical care? The fragmentation of multiple insurers requires people to drive past excellent hospitals to go to the one where their insurance will pay. If you ever tried to help a senior citizen get medical care, and handled the billing afterwards, I don’t see how you could think America has a good health care system.

Dr. Offit made a brief comment that in children of older parents, age likely raises the risk of autism,… I was unclear if he was simply talking of a possibility or a certainty

Plenty of examples from the history of European aristocrats, without needing to speculate about living individuals. Carlos II — inbreeding, or older father?

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