Respectful Insolence

Here’s a new one on me:

Senator Obama’s support for preventative medical care is another little noted but important key point of difference with Senator McCain that emerged from the debate. Under Obama it is far more likely that insurance plans will cover alternative medicine, including acupuncture, therapy, and government approved herbs and vitamins. This category alone could more than double the current spending by pharmaceutical companies, and would give a boost to local market media as Alternative Care centers compete with traditional medicine. Again, a McCain presidency is likely to bring this windfall to a screeching halt.

Where the hell did Jack Myers get this idea from? This is the first time I’ve heard anything like this. Myers seems to equate woo with “preventative” care, and he doesn’t explain on what basis he concludes that Obama’s plan is more likely to cover woo. Also, I couldn’t find anything Goggling to suggest that this is the case.

Comments

  1. #1 Greg
    October 17, 2008

    Oh please, it’s the oldest trick in the book…Myers is trying to make use of the whole “if you say it enough times, people will think it is so” heuristic, so as to maybe make it so in real life…c’mon, Myers, you’re not foolin’ anyone.

  2. #2 DLC
    October 17, 2008

    Well, you see . . . Obama is considered a liberal by many.
    (I don’t wish to argue the point, just noting it.)
    Under the category of Liberal Stereotypes you will also find “touchy-feely” and “crystal-squeezing” new age nonsense.
    As most alternative(to) medicine is considered to be in the same box as new-age mumbo-jumbo, it then follows (in Jack Myers mind at least) that Obama must be in favor of such practices being more widely supported.

    Would anyone like to play “Name that Logical Fallacy” ?

  3. #3 mandydax
    October 17, 2008

    …government approved herbs and vitamins.

    What? I don’t recall any herbs and spices vitamins approved by the federal government. Well, except the federal marijuana prescriptions for those 7 terminally ill people.

    Would anyone like to play “Name that Logical Fallacy” ?

    M: “I’ll take Begging the Question for $200, Alex.”
    A: “Obama is a liberal. All liberals are into woo. Therefore, Obama is into woo.”
    M: “Are all liberals into woo?”

  4. #4 Ian
    October 17, 2008

    Maybe he means it’s the only sensible alternative to McCain’s plan?!

  5. #5 thetwitchytechnician
    October 17, 2008

    Quick question: We’ve heard tell that the FDA might start getting involved with OTC herbs and supplements. Has anyone else heard of this?

  6. #6 Orac
    October 17, 2008

    Actually, someone elsewhere pointed out that Myers said “emerged from the debate.” Now, I watched the debate, and I don’t see any way that anything that Obama said during the debate could be construed that way. Myers is on crack.

  7. #7 BB
    October 17, 2008

    @thetwitchytechnician, wouldn’t it be a good thing for the FDA to regulate OTC products, like herbs and vitamins and such? You and I may not take herbs, but we might take calcium or mineral supplements. Ensuring the things are what they say they are and contain no poisons is a good thing, IMO.

    As long as insurance companies cover altie practices, you’ll be hearing about them discussed in health care plans. The masses want them. MDs become naturopaths and pick up more patients that way (which makes one wonder why the AMA doesn’t censure that sort of thing…). I had a lawyer argue with me yesterday how her naturopath was a better diagnostician than her GI MD. Even my own lab technician believes in homeopathy (maybe he’s becoming a skeptic now that we went over Avogadro’s number again, I hope).

  8. #8 MBA
    October 17, 2008

    I agree that I haven’t heard him say it. But do a quick survey of countries that have heavy government involvement in health care and see if you don’t come up with a trend toward greater support of quackery. After all, the general argument is usually, “it’s cheap, and people like it.” Efficacy be damned! This may be where the fear is coming from. Personally, I wouldn’t put it past the government to start covering such things, and without any information coming from the candidate himself on this, I feel no inclination to give him the benefit of the doubt, as most are very willing to do. Watch, wait, as see. It could be that in a few years many of you guys will be eating your hats.

  9. #9 Orac
    October 17, 2008

    Actually, here in the US, there is an increasing trend towards insurance companies covering woo. Indeed, at least a couple of states that I’m aware of mandate coverage for naturopathy and various other forms of woo for the very same reasons: political. Insurance company execs figure “it’s cheap and people like it.” So do politicians who pass these laws.

    In fact, I’ve seen no compelling evidence from systematic studies that government-run health care systems are any more or less prone to funding woo than private systems. From my perspective, assertions that government-run systems tend to favor woo are almost always based on anecdotal and cherry-picked evidence. If you’re aware of more systematic, scientific evidence supporting your assertion, I’d certainly take a look, but right now I’m not aware of any such evidence.

  10. #10 MBA
    October 17, 2008

    I admit that an increase in woo with a transition to a government run system has been a fear of mine. Perhaps you are right, and that fear is unfounded. I am willing to be convinced. I am aware of insurance companies supporting woo, as well. A family member who works for an insurance company explained to me how they would rather send a patient with back pain to a chiropractor rather than a surgeon simply because there is less of a chance they will be operated on, opening them up to endless complications. Not because the chiropractor offers anything of significance. I have recently been to a talk given by an orthopedic surgeon who explained that the trend now is to try to avoid surgery whenever possible. That doesn’t seem to be changing the insurance companies’ preference. When insurance companies and/or the government start covering homeopathy en masse in this country, as is done in many other western countries, we will know that a major ideological battle has been lost, regardless of whether that battle is lost in the private or the public sector.

  11. #11 SimonG
    October 17, 2008

    MBA:
    Woo is alive and kicking in the UK, but it seems that public funding of it is declining.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7523302.stm

  12. #12 rodentrancher
    October 17, 2008

    Well, any health care plan that brings (part of) the general public in under the current Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) will increase spending on woo. As an unintended consequence, of course, but it will still have that effect. Perhaps that’s the (admittedly feeble) basis for Myers’ statement?

    As best I can tell, ALL of the various options under the FEHBP cover chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, and “naturopathic physicians”. I’m a fed looking over my options for “open season” (the time window we have each year to change plans), and I can’t find a single woo-free option. Not one.

    I can’t get any useful dental coverage, but I can go get my neck wrenched 18 times a year and have some loon probe my “meridians” with heated needles 20 times a year.

    I guess the woo-dispensers have better lobbyists than the dentists . . .

  13. #13 Phoenix Woman
    October 17, 2008

    Two of the biggest actual woo-backers in Congress are Ron Paul and Orrin Hatch.

    Ron Paul loves herbs and chiropractic:

    https://www.enerhealthbotanicals.com/Articles.asp?ID=160
    http://blog.planetc1.com/2007/10/04/chiropractors-voting-for-ron-paul/

    Here’s a link mentioning Orrin Hatch (and rabid antivaxer Dan Burton (R-IN), and, alas, Tom Harkin) and their support of altie meds:

    http://www.time.com/time/columnist/jaroff/article/0,9565,405186,00.html

    More on Orrin and alt-med:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0109.mencimer2.html

  14. #14 Phoenix Woman
    October 17, 2008

    I can’t get any useful dental coverage, but I can go get my neck wrenched 18 times a year and have some loon probe my “meridians” with heated needles 20 times a year.

    It all comes down to cost. Getting a single filling nowadays can easily cost $500, especially if heavy-duty filing and drilling is involved. Meanwhile, the average cost of a chiro visit is around $65. Guess which amount the insurance company is more willing to fork over?

  15. #15 Mu
    October 17, 2008

    The headline on CNN earlier today was how the new “mandated mental health coverage” will include “alternative” approaches for, in their example, autism.
    What might put a real damper in the woo-masters war chest; their patients can get their shot of lupron+chelation at insurance prices, which will probably be 10% of what they are charging now.

  16. #16 Phoenix Woman
    October 17, 2008

    Actually, here in the US, there is an increasing trend towards insurance companies covering woo. Indeed, at least a couple of states that I’m aware of mandate coverage for naturopathy and various other forms of woo for the very same reasons: political. Insurance company execs figure “it’s cheap and people like it.” So do politicians who pass these laws.

    Yup.

    In fact, I’ve seen no compelling evidence from systematic studies that government-run health care systems are any more or less prone to funding woo than private systems. From my perspective, assertions that government-run systems tend to favor woo are almost always based on anecdotal and cherry-picked evidence. If you’re aware of more systematic, scientific evidence supporting your assertion, I’d certainly take a look, but right now I’m not aware of any such evidence.

    In the US at least, one could argue that the growth of woo is tied to both the rising costs of actual medicine (remember when you didn’t know anybody who’d been bankrupted by medical bills?) and the ongoing, decades-long conservative attack (started by none other than Bill Simon, former cabinet member in the Nixon White House) on certain institutions that are seen as the gatekeepers of objective truth, facts, and reality: colleges, media outlets, research groups. (It’s no accident that there’s a hard-core number of colloidal silver fans among Ron Paul backers; they reject traditional medical knowledge as they reject other forms of reality as evil commie plots to take your freedom.)

  17. #17 Alex
    October 17, 2008

    Myers is actually a well known proponent of homeopathy as well. If you check out the SWIFT archives you can see that he and Randi have been going back and forth on a few things.

  18. #18 TomDunlap
    October 17, 2008

    “The one thing I dread with a Democratic victory is the ascendancy of navel-gazing crystal-healing New Age loons, without a shred of critical thinking.” — PZ @ http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/10/liberal_baloney.php

  19. #19 Orac
    October 17, 2008

    The headline on CNN earlier today was how the new “mandated mental health coverage” will include “alternative” approaches for, in their example, autism.

    Got a link?

  20. #20 Phoenix Woman
    October 17, 2008

    “The one thing I dread with a Democratic victory is the ascendancy of navel-gazing crystal-healing New Age loons, without a shred of critical thinking.” — PZ @ http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/10/liberal_baloney.php

    Heh. The most woo-ridden person of my acquaintance is a rock-ribbed Republican who consumes flax by the cupful, visits her chiropractor weekly, and uses feng shui to arrange her office furniture. Oh, and she says she has “fibromyalgia”. You know, the disease that its discoverer now says doesn’t really exist as such?

    Meanwhile, Republican Senator Bill Frist’s being a heart surgeon didn’t stop him from attempting a totally unprofessional and unethical diagnosis-by-TV of Terri Schiavo’s brain function.

  21. #22 Phoenix Woman
    October 17, 2008

    The CNN link refers to a bill being considered in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s General Assembly. Nothing about anything being considered nationally, much less mandated, for autism. (Though it wouldn’t be the first time a CNN headline on TV totally misrepresented the contents of a CNN story.)

  22. #23 Pete
    October 17, 2008

    Here’s a guy from Psychology Today who says he’s invited to join Obama’s health care advisory team.

    His support of CAM is scary.

    http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/complementary-medicine/200810/health-care-and-the-elections-part-3

    He uses the standard Big, Bad Pharma talking points. Check it out.