Tom Dacschle to Head HHS
Posted: 23 November 2008 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hmmmm. Well, I agree with a lot of his policies on healthcare for the poor and uninsured, but I am very worried about someone so strongly in favor of promoting alternative medicine running the government’s health service. He was a major proponent of so-called “healthcare freedom” measures that amount to barring the government from regulating alternative quack therapies or sanctioning the licenses of practictioners who hurt patients with quack care.

I had hoped that with Obama replacing Bush, science and rationality might reclaim some of the ground lost to faith and ideology in the last 8 years, but it looks distinctly possible this won’t be true as far as the medical system goes. Any thoughts or suggestions about what we can do about it?

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Posted: 23 November 2008 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m not terribly knowledgeable about techniques for effecting political change. For now I think the most I can do is continue to educate my patients. The medical community as a whole has taken a non-confrontational approach. Its almost a policy of appeasement which has grown out of the new medical consumerism, and society’s fascination with alternative therapies. Now with Daschle in a position of power that may have to change.

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Posted: 23 November 2008 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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mckenzievmd - 23 November 2008 11:42 AM

He was a major proponent of so-called “healthcare freedom” measures that amount to barring the government from regulating alternative quack therapies…”

Don’t you just love how they call it healthcare FREEDOM? This wording is similar to the new creationist tactic. Because “intelligent design” is now nearly synonymous with “lawsuit” in the educational field, their new slogan is academic FREEDOM. They bill it as allowing the students to make their own choices and discover for themselves what is true. Much like the argument that patients should have the right to discover for themselves the treatment that works for them.

Funny how anything not backed by science is now touted as a violation of freedom. People just DON’T GET IT and this really ticks me off.

- A citizen has the FREEDOM to pay their own money for any woo-woo herbs or silly treatments they desire.
- A citizen has the FREEDOM to put their kid in private (or home school) to teach them creation theory

Seems like there is plenty of FREEDOM to me.

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Posted: 23 November 2008 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I must admit, I don’t know much about Tom Dacschle, except what I’ve heard in passing. When my husband said he’d been offered the HHS post I said, “Oh, Dacschle. What’s his background outside of politics? Is he a scientist? No? Is he a doctor? No? Well, does he… play one on TV?” I understand he’s pushed for better healthcare access for the poor, which is a step in the right direction. I’m especially concerned about healthcare access for poor children.

Personally, I’d like to see more basic health services in public schools, especially in poor neighborhoods. Sometimes the school nurse literally saves lives - she may be the kids only resource for healthcare. My son’s elementary school has a doctor that comes in and does free vaccinations, etc. They even have a dental hygienist that does cleanings in the nurses office, by appointment, for any kids poor enough to receive free lunches. But can you believe some school districts cut the nurse out of the budget completely, replacing her with a first aid kit in the principals office? Other school districts reduce the nurse to two or three days a week. It’s a horrible shame.

Also, I would be most pleased if Dacschle would be able to “undo” a lot of this recent damage regarding access to birth control, especially to rape victims. And this nonsense the Bush administration was trying to pass, that reclassified birth control pills and IUDs as abortion. Would Dacschle have any control over this in his new position? (I really take issue with people saying that when I take the pill, I kill an infant every 28 days. Who knew I was a serial killer? I thought I was more of a soccer mom.)

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Posted: 23 November 2008 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I think overall he has a fairly typical moderate to liberal democrat position on healthcare issues, and certainly he supports Obama and CLinton’s efforts to expand health coverage. The problem is that he also believes uncritically that scientific medicine is opposed to alternative therapies for reasons of economics and turf, not because they are really nonsense, and he views making these therapies avilable as a consumer rights issue, rather than a healthcare issue per se. He sponsored legislation prohibiting the FDA from regulating dietary supplements and herbal mediciations, and barring licensing agencies from sanctioning healthcare providers for providing unptested alternative treatments.. I believe he is also a supporter of the NIH center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine, which spends millions of taxpayer dollars setting up studies on alternative therapies trying to prove things work which have a low probability of working on basic principles or which have already been shown ineffective many times (homeopathy, acupuncture, many herbs and supplements). In my understanding, this agency has never actually succeeded in validating a therapy that scientific medicine had already figured out wouldn’t work, but they’ve spent a lot of our money trying. I don’t see providing the poor with greater access to quackery a positive step for healthcare in America, and I’m afraid that will be part, though probably a small part, of Daschle’s agenda at HHS.

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