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Journal of No. 118

December 12th, 2009

A bitter sugar pill to swallow @ 08:10 am

Thanks to Bob Park for mentioning this story: "Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat also known as Senator Bee Pollen, could not let the Health Reform Bill go through without a provision mandating that insurers reimburse alternative medicine providers."

From the LA Times article:

Insurers and some scientific watchdogs say the measure would undermine one of the central principles of the healthcare overhaul: that the system cut costs by eliminating medical treatments that aren't proven effective.
The leading champion of these measures is Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health Committee, who credits bee-pollen pills with curing his seasonal allergies. He is also the leading recipient in Congress of campaign donations from chiropractors and dietary-supplement makers.

Yay, we get to pay for therapeutic touch and moxibustion.

Now, I'm not against alternative medicine just because it's alternative. I'll happily consider anything that works. But how do we know whether something works? One of the supporters of alternative medicine mentions that the practices have been around for centuries. I would prefer some sort of double-blind testing, yet just as a reminder to everyone:

"Makers of supplements, which unlike pharmaceuticals are not subject to federal drug-testing standards before they are marketed, pushed for the pilot program. Its inclusion would enhance the credibility of supplements and, manufacturers say, introduce them to lower-income consumers."

We'll be paying for things that have not been tested for either safety or efficacy.

On the other hand, maybe we'll be able to save a lot of money by giving sick people bee pollen instead of an MRI.
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Date:December 13th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)

What fucking bullshit. Or should I say beeshit.
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Date:December 14th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC)
I was hoping moxibustion meant "spontaneous combustion due to drinking Moxie."
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Date:December 15th, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
I routinely get e-mails about alternative medicine from my family, and the ads (not articles, Mom, ads!) invariably have one common theme: it must work, because THEY say it won't. Who THEY are isn't always clearly defined, but it seems to be some combination of MDs*, hospitals, the government, the insurance companies, and (most importantly) Big Pharm. THEY make lots of money off of the mainstream medical treatments, so THEY don't want you to know about this old/new alternative.

The ads invoke tradition when they can, and there's certainly an element of technophobia being appealed to (because the alternatives are always "natural", a marketing buzzword completely empty of actual definition). But when the alternative medicine folks can't come up with a traditional pedigree for their products and treatments, they seamlessly switch sides to extoll the wonders of this new discovery which disproves the tired old dogma of the modern medical establishment.

It's all about distrust of authority, one which almost borders on paranoid conspiracy theory -- THEY are all working together to keep you sick so you'll keep coming back for their expensive treatments.

* Reading between the lines, THEY may not actually include doctors. Some of the ads seem to imply that doctors are unwitting dupes of the system. I'm guessing that this twist was added since most people probably know a doctor or two, and it's hard to demonize the familiar. Of course, it also plays to good old American anti-intellectualism, since four years of medical school is equated with four years of "brainwashing".

Journal of No. 118