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August 27, 2009

Alties vs. healthcare reform

Dr. Amy Tuteur, the Skeptical OB, notices that multi-millionaire crackpot Andrew Weil is making the case against healthcare reform at the Huffington Post. (Update: In a follow-up post, Dr. Amy takes a closer look at Dr. Weil's natural products empire.)

Why? Because he thinks the reforms are inexplicably focused on saving money while curing diseases with medicines. Weil thinks we should scrap that model and focus on making people "healthy," i.e., plying them with his industry's products.

Dr. Weil is so warm and cuddly and charmingly befuddled that it's easy to forget his an advocate for an industry that's every bit as mercenary as Big Pharma. All these special interest groups are vying for government giveaways under the guise of reform, and Big Placebo is no exception.


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A lot of people dealing with heart disease with drugs and/or sugery would be better off changing their diet, and it would also cost less.

Sure, but that's not alternative medicine, that's standard medical advice. There's real science about how to help people change their lifestyles for the better. But there's no particular reason to expect that the health reform legislation would be about that.

We should support the public health agencies we have, like the CDC, the public health service, the Indian health service. The last thing this country needs is a Medicare Part D for alternative medicines. We give enough money away to supposedly capitalist free market industries without adding the natural health industry to the corporate dole.

Well, some people, such as David Paterson, support soda taxes, which are a way of encouraging people to change their diet...

And this is relevant, how?

Pfft. If the Canadaian government tried to tax poutine, donuts, and Tim Hortons Double Doubles, everything north of the 49th parallel would be ablaze.

Weil should join John Mackey and stfu. Neither of them knows what he's talking about.

Alt medicine isn't really about dietary changes, which Lindsay already pointed out that doctors already advise. It's also really childish to think that just eating right would erase the need for universal health care. Believe me---I'm a healthy exercising adult, but I was a child who had chronic health problems that prevented exercise. It does happen.

People dealing with heart disease with drugs or surgery are at the point where a lifestyle change wouldn't change the fact that they need a coronary bypass or need to improve their blood pressure situation.

True. People who're past the point of preventive medicine wouldn't benefit much from preventive medicine. People who have lung cancer already wouldn't benefit much from smoking cessation programs; cigarette taxes are for the next generation of people.

I'm not a fake doctor with lots of money in the bank, but I do have a prescription for my fellow Americans (stolen from the Buddhists). Every morning after waking up, repeat to yourself the following:

"I inhabit a body that is subject to injury and illness."

"I inhabit a body that is subject to aging, and is certain to eventually die."

After a few weeks at most, I promise that (among other substanitial benefits) your paranoia about "death panels" as well as your need to enrich hucksters like Andrew Weil will be siginificantly reduced.

I think your point is slightly confusing in relation to healthcare reform. The change to prevention would be a big shift in health care in the U.S. I'm all for barring quack medicine. But I think you are a little unclear that prevention itself is not a quack medicine.

Weil is absolutely right. If you care about outcomes and not transactions, eating right is much more effective than surgeries and pills. The "statins" are close to useless, but billions are spent just to advertize them (Lindsay no doubt is well-aware of this). The problem with the current health advice (eat fruits and vegetables and exercise) is that it doesn't work. That's why we have so many fat people.

Take acne, for instance. I went to at least five dermatologists, all of whom gave me useless antibiotics. I changed my diet a little (no vegetable oils or trans-fats) and I cleared up within weeks. Much cheaper and more effective.

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