Matthew Holt

Senate Healthcare Bill Amendment Allocates Your Tax Dollars To Quacks

With healthcare costs spiraling out of control, and major rationing efforts under consideration – can we really afford to allow purveyors of pseudoscience to use up scarce Medicare/Medicaid resources? It’s hard to imagine that Obama’s administration would approve of extending “health professional” status to people with an online degree and a belief in magic – but a new amendment would allow just that. What happened to our “restoring science to its rightful place” and why are we emphasizing comparative effectiveness research if we will use tax dollars to pay for things that are known to be ineffective?I hope someone reads and removes this amendment pronto (h/t to David Gorski at Science Based Medicine):Here’s the language that Sen. Harkin has slipped into the 615 page Senate version of the health care reform bill:

HEALTH PROFESSIONALS.—The term “health professionals” includes—(A) dentists, dental hygienists, primary 25 care providers, specialty physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, psychologists and other behavioral and mental health professionals, social workers, physical therapists, public health professionals, clinical pharmacists, allied health professionals, chiropractors, community health workers, school nurses, certified nurse midwives, podiatrists, licensed complementary and alternative medicine providers, and integrative health practitioners;

Background Reading:What Do Chiropractors Believe?Acupuncture Doesn’t WorkShould Naturopaths Be Allowed To Prescribe Medication?Homeopathy ER

This post was originally published on the Better Health blog.

37 replies »

  1. Tho I don’t agree with the process utilized in securing this particular wide-sweeping healthcare reform bill, I disagree it isn’t about bringing down costs in it’s approach. Let’s consider, alternative healthcare practitioners do not utilize pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures (a MAJOR expense in healthcare). Additionally, these services promote prevention, which ultimately will lower costs dramatically. I canot agree with the author of this article, and it appears to me that he is critcal of lower costing alternatives, that promote prevention, while tauting traditional medicine which has brought the price of healthcare to the stratosphere for expenditures…?

  2. It is truly a shame to see uneducated people argue against ones profession. I am a recent graduate from chiropractic school and I have already blessed the minds of over a dozen medical practitioners on how to co-manage a patient with the proper diet, exercise, spinal manipulations and MEDICATION, yes medication is very effective when used properly, all with the work of myself (the chiropractor), and the medical doctor. Communication is the key, not ignorance. We are here for the patient, not to call out each others professions. It too bad some people did not learn that in their ethics courses.

  3. The bill will be the end of us, the attacks on all these professions is no different than voting for a bill you didn’t read. If you have not researched what it takes to obtain a degree in any field, don’t comment on it. That’s the problem with blogs, any moron can log on and talk. The crying is over now we have to sort through this junk together and get some of this stuff rewritten.

  4. Calling Chiropractors “Quaks” is such an out dated term. Majority of Chiropractic Universities have changed there basic science courses to compare, if not surpass Allopathic Universities. A chiropractic student is now given the same info that a medical student is receiving in the first 3 yrs of medical school. A chiropractor is more than a back doctor and are currently being trained in Primary Care. No, We can’t prescribe medicine or perform surgery, but with preventative health care, the public will need less of that. Chiropractic can’t treat everything and we understand that and we are trained to properly refer. I think that Dr. Val is concerned that the addition of better access to alternative health care to this bill, means he will have to update his education to be able to compete with alternative health care. We should all work together in healing our communities.

  5. Its funny how you single out chiropractors and alternative medicine providers from the list and say that they drive up costs and are a waste of tax payers dollars; yet you say nothing of the costs of medical doctors. Chiropractic is less expensive than visits to your medical doctor, decreases the number of back surgeries performed, and lowers the number of visits to hospitals. If you did any research at all you would have come across this while reading. My chiropractor has a degree in Biology, Anatomy, and Health and Wellness as well as his doctorate in Chiropractic and you actually call into question his scientific background and belief in his art. He has helped me and many others find help where medical doctors only provided me drugs and excuses. Talk about pseudoscience, most of the depression drugs out there are just as effective as exercise but you see drug companies getting rich of them and screwing people out of their money. You should do some more research before you open your mouth about things you dont know or understand. You shouldnt even call yourself a doctor.

  6. Dr.Val, did you know that more people see alternative health providers than allopathic medical providers. Hmmmmm.
    Take a look in the mirror and at your profession, that is why we have a financial health care crisis.

  7. Like what kind of political party, one that thinks we should let more live off the system, one that gives government more control or maybe one that can see just what infinity is in $$$$. Who are you kidding? Hello??? Who was in charge of monitoring the Banks and Lending in this country and we should trust them with healthcare? No they are like the car manufacturers, just have a hard time getting it right!

  8. Shame on Republicans for continued scare tactics – now back to abortion. SHAME SHAME SHAME
    Stand up and care about all Americans. Republicans need to be voted out and a new party needs to rise in their place.

  9. If this bill passes, I plan to wear a black arm band as a sign of mourning over how much Americans will loose with this bill.

  10. whomever wrote this blog has no understanding of what type of schooling is involved in Chiropractic. It’s people like this who really should not be allowed to speak.

  11. As long as we continue to provide “sick care” and not “health care” it will never work. Prevention of disease is better than treating it. But no one makes money keeping people healthy!!!!

  12. Come on School nurses? Chiropractors? Social workers? Let’s get real. The dems are desperate for power and will force this down the throats of the american people who have clearly already indicated that they do not want it. If this passes I will never vote for another Dem again. They pose this as if we have to do this now, this month. We have not had govt healthcare reform ever but all of a sudden it has to be done this month? 1/6th of the nations economy to be federalized at a huge cost and yet we have to hurry it through congress. Not only that but since they can’t get it through congress they are going to use a buget resolution process to get it passed. Funny when they can’t get things done they have to do it in a sneaky way. Obamas days are numbered as president. Since he has come in to office he has quadrupled the national debt. Unemployment has doubled and he has the nerve to say he “Saved” jobs. What jobs has he saved? Economic stimulus was spent on banks and auto makers, union croanies that created no jobs. How about tax incentives to build or give money back to the tax payers. There you go that is too simple. Dems think they know how to spend our money better than us

  13. I was born here, but my family is entirely English. My family has grown up around socialized medical care. They will tell you that any country that has run healthcare like Obama wants has never been able to make it work. There will be lines of people wanting their children to be cured of the Cold while you sit and wait with a more serious issue. Not only that, it will cost more for everyone in the US. I would like to know why people think it will be cheaper? I hope I never get cancer in this country if this is passed.

  14. I am an outsider living in Europe. The short version of my opinion on the republican stance with regard to the healthcare bill that Obama is trying to pass is: Politics first and F…. the poor and needy!

  15. Dr. Val,
    As a practicing Chiropractic physician in Illinois, I encourage you to keep an open mind to the possibility that an individual’s health is not something to be “purchased” through the use of drugs and surgery. Chiropractors focus on working together with the person to help them regain their health through a better functioning nervous system, improved nutrition, and improved social and mental well being. My wife(also a Doctor of Chiropractic)and I have been able to help many patients, including several medical doctors and registered nurses regain their health through chiropractic care. I was quite aware of the skepticism a few of these health care professionals possessed at first, however, they quickly learned chiropractic works because it is soundly based in the fundamental basics of anatomy and physiology. Do yourself a favor and contact a local chiropractor to recieve more information.

  16. Dr. Val,
    I don’t agree with socialized medicine at all, or any form of a socialistic government!!! However, I’m not so sure that integrating CAM is a bad thing. Besides, our country is about free interprise and consumer choice, correct? If only one profession was included in this plan it would just be a government regulated monopoly. Who cares if it’s “proven science”? If the consumer gets results and chooses a CAM doctor, then the consumer has every right to choose who they seek for primary care. I am glad to see this inclusion and hopefully the big drug companies won’t lobby(bribe) our congress into closing doors on other professions.

  17. shame,shame on any senator who has received contributions from an insurance company and votes against a health care option. it seems they are feathering their own nest instead of helping the citizens.I used to have a great deal of respect for Joe Liberman but not anymore.

  18. Why doesn’t the senate take a cut in pay.
    Why doesn’t the senate use the health care they want us to be on for a year first.
    Why doesnt’ the senate pay taxes.
    Why do we let the senate create and run a program that’s never been tested first.
    just questions…
    by the way, chiropractors have just as much education as medical doctors. they are spinal neurologists that use their hands (“chiro”) instead of surgery. There is more research being released every year proving chiropractic. Physical therapist are fighting right now to include spinal manipulation into their scope of practice. The government just hired a group of chiropractors to serve in the military for a year to help troups become less injured. Every profession has their idiots. Every profession.

  19. I am not in favor of the government running ANYTHING! OR ANYONE! Back off and do the job of defending this country PERIOD! YOU WORK FOR US not the other way around.

  20. here is a PS>….
    Thank God for MSNBC….at least they tell the truth.
    You should watch and listen to Keith Olbermann, The Ed Show, and Rachel Maddow. They are the best,and are telling the truth. I applaud them. I hope the truth prevails for once, for all our sakes.

  21. All I can say is people are pretty stupid to turn down the new health care proposals. What do they want? The same? Really stupid. What we have NOW is so costly, that it is out of control. Obama is trying to get that under control and cover people that have none. So what if the rich have to pay a small amount of tax more? They should!!! There are so many lies, and the Republicans are bought off by the big companies and they are trying to stop it. Even some of the Dem,.’s are probably bought off. What’s wrong with them? We should vote anyone out of office that does not vote for a new proposal for health care. Anything will be better than what we have! People are cutting their own throats by listening to the Republicans. Stupid I tell ya! Stupid! A bunch of crazies….This is our one and only chance for decent health care for everyone…and believe me it will be cheaper than what we have now.
    That’;s how Bush got in the 2nd time….stupidity of the people. I may have to move to another country to have decent health care. What we have now is embarrassing for a country like ours. Hate mongering, and pressuring to kill Obama is the top on their list.
    If their craziness causes that…they will have no one to blame but themselves for killing someone. It is all about his race. Let’s admit the facts. If this was Bush doing this…they would love it. And, they were even ready to give up Medicare and Social Security for him!
    What’s wrong with CNN for treating these crazies like they have brains? They don’t. Let’s hear the other side of it. Is CNN against Health care for everyone? Who is paying them off? The big Corporations?

  22. I find it remarkable that you are upset over the inclusion of naturopaths and chiropractors (many of which are more rational, well rounded, educated and skeptical than traditional physicians) yet you have no apparent issue with pharmacists, who routinely prescribe excessive and unnecessary drugs, often fail to check for interactions, and are sometimes little more than glorified pill counters and overenthusiastic chemist wannabes. EVERY field of medicine is deeply flawed. Every branch of traditional and non-traditional practice is full of idiots. Seeing as there is more proof that diet, exercise, herbal therapy and nutritional therapy are effective than the vast majority of drug “treatments” (many of which can be proven as little more effective than placebo and/or significantly less effective than certain supplements and lifestyle changes) I would suggest you let every quack have his day. Barring reflexologists of course. They’re nuts 😀

  23. Someone read the bill!!
    If any elected official votes for this they should be jailed as spies and traitors.

  24. The whole problem with control-from-above regulation is the constant danger to our society of outlawing competition and innovation.
    So…if lobbyists can outlaw competitors, they can reduce competition, at the expense of society.
    Sure, there will always be “quacks.”
    The problem is, you can’t choose for me what is quakery. Really.
    No one else can, unless I choose to let them.
    I find journal abstracts easy to read, but… I would not hesitate to try chiropractors if I had back pain. You may think chiropractors are quacks. I may not. I might think most types of back surgery are harmful.
    It’s just destructive to society for any control from above to prevent my free choice in this way.
    So establishing a medical monopoly, a guild, by law or control of insurance payments, is a bad idea.

  25. There is a summary of how much it will cost you to be part of the plan and it’s far more expensive for me than the private plan I currently have (as long as there is a private plan option). This is just another bureaucratic hornets nest that will not improve health care anywhere.
    You’d think with so many examples in other countries of what doesn’t work, we wouldn’t be looking down the same path but pursuing a better way. Unfortunately they are taking the easy and expensive path.

  26. The proposed Healthcare reform bill is outrageous!!!!!
    The proposed healthcare reform bill contains so many items that are a cause for a great deal of concern; raising the question, why is the administration in such a hurry to pass this bill?
    The bill is too important to be rushed; it must solve problems in the healthcare system, not create new problems and exacerbate old ones. Solving current system inefficiencies is a critical first step to resolving our healthcare crisis.
    READ SOME OF THE UNBELIEVEABLE items from the bill!
    From the bill’s first 500 pages, here are some of the items being referred to as unconstitutional:
    Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure!
    Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!
    Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process)
    Page 42: The “Health Choices Commissioner” will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice.
    Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.
    Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID health card.
    Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.
    Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (read: SEIU, UAW and ACORN)
    Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange.
    Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans)
    Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens
    Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan.
    Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter.
    Page 124: No Company can sue the government for price-fixing. No “judicial review” is permitted against the government monopoly. Simply put, private insurers will be crushed.
    Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages.
    Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives.
    Page 126: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families.
    Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll
    Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll
    Page 167: Any individual who doesn’t have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income.
    Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them).
    Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records.
    Page 203: “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax.” Yes, it really says that.
    Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected.”
    Page 241: Doctors: no matter what specialty you have, you’ll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)
    Page 253: Government sets value of doctors’ time, their professional judgment, etc.
    Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries.
    Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs.
    Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!
    Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions.
    Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a re-admission, you will be penalized by the government.
    Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited for owning and investing in healthcare companies!
    Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval.
    Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on “community” input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN.
    Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing.
    Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc.
    Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals.
    Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone).
    Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia?
    Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time.
    Page 425: Government provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.
    Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends.
    Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient’s health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT.
    Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life.
    Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.
    Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN.
    Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage.
    Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services.

  27. I agree with MarkS… NO ONE IS DEALING WITH CUTTING COSTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The proposed healthcare reform bill contains many items that are causing a great deal of concern; raising the question, why is the administration in such a hurry to pass this bill? Many feel that the bill is too important to be rushed; it must solve problems in the healthcare system, not create new problems and exacerbate old ones. Solving current system inefficiencies is a critical first step to resolving our healthcare crisis.
    The federal Health Care Financing Administration, which oversees Medicare & Medicaid (the parts of the healthcare system which are run by the government), estimates that the government loses 30 cents to every dollar from fraudulent practices in the medical community. This is a huge problem that must not be ignored; especially when you consider that the combined total spending that is projected in 2010 for Medicare & Medicaid is $675 billion! That is over $200 billion of taxpayer’s money that is being wasted in the current government run healthcare system!
    Hospitals, doctors and other medical professionals think part of the blame lies with the complexity of the system itself. Ironically, the proposed bill has over 1000 pages and is being rushed through congress, not affording those concerned sufficient time to evaluate the provisions within the bill.

  28. I guess evidence-based data from medical journal articles, epidemiology and economics, which relies on randomized clinical trials, which doesn’t even require a medical education, fares better? Nonphysicians trained in social science, science or even public policy analysis having judgement over medicine. Where doctors used to define the “standard of care,” now payers and puchasers of medical services redefine the standards for appropriate medical care, encourage doctors to act in ways to promote their financial interests when they make medical decisions.

  29. Whether or not you support any or all types of alternative medicine, you have no right to deny others their own freedom in choosing whatever care pathway or provider they want. We live in a democracy: every voice counts. You have the right to opt for western medicine, and others have the right not to. As soon as you, or the government, is making that choice for them, our democratic ideals are lost.

  30. So many THCB topic threads can be treated as a microcosm of the health reform dilemma it almost seems trite to identify this one as working well in that respect.
    But it does work well in that respect. One reason is that participants immediately line up on either side of the technical merits/defects of activities that may/may not be “effective”.
    Most health care ACTIVITY – the technical doctoring stuff – is of surprisingly limited effectiveness. There’s a reason “First do no harm” still stands as an ideal admonition for healers.
    Find ways – ideally, relatively inexpensive ways – to engage people in seeking confirmation of their health status, and to instill or reinforce the confidence that ‘watchful waiting’ may be the best medicine of all for many if not most suspected ailments. Reduce the manifold barriers people face in getting that basic sort of reassurance regarding their health. Make it easy for them – for all of us – to be “responsible” for our health. Then watch as a health care cost crisis disappears within half a generation at most.

  31. “Dr. Val has obviously not studied any other form of alternative medicine. If he had, he would find ample science supporting most types.”
    Feel free to post that “science” here. All those double-blind placebo-controlled trials would fit in a few lines. I admit, there are a few instances where alternative medicine has been shown to be effective, but very few. All the rest of those “clinical trials” either failed or can pretty much be chalked up to placebo effect (not that there was any attempt to control for that).
    And don’t even get me started on how shoddy the standards for regulating the active ingredient content of supplements are…

  32. “The chiropractor at least provides positive human contact and makes people feel better.”
    So does a prostitute. If the efficacy and value of procedures can not be demonstrated, the procedures should not be ordered.

  33. Dr. Val is right that we need to make hard decisions to bring down costs, but the minimal cost of these alternative medicine is worth the comfort these services provide. Let’s look at the cost of an unneeded ultrasound versus a chiropractor. The chiropractor at least provides positive human contact and makes people feel better. An unneeded ultrasound makes people feel diseased and costs a lot more. (Said as someone who doesn’t believe in the scientific efficacy of these practices, but is more than willing to pay for their minimal costs for others).

  34. The only quack here is Dr. Val. He equates chiropracters, licensed complementary and alternative medical practitioners, and integrative health practitioners with quacks and expects others to believe this made up nonsense without question. Dr. Val has obviously not studied any other form of alternative medicine. If he had, he would find ample science supporting most types. This inconvenient truth must disturb Dr. Val or he wouldn’t expect us to avoid looking at it, as he does.

  35. I think that it’s becoming very clear that nobody is going to do the hard part of health care reform which is cutting costs. Every special interest has their lobbyists and has their own bought and paid for congresspersons to protect their right to overcharge for as many services as they can possibly think up.
    The result will be a very expensive bill for everyone.