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Hullabaloo


Friday, October 30, 2015

 
GOP health care plans: Gibberish and snake oil miracle cures

by digby

I wrote about a couple of the GOP presidential candidates' "health care plans" for Salon today:

Dr. Ben Carson might be expected to have a serious health care plan since he is a serious medical professional and all. But he has struggled to explain exactly what it is. Indeed, he’s been so incoherent on the subject that he seemed to have given Fox News’ Chris Wallace a migraine trying to sort it out.
However confused he is on the details of health care policy, it’s more disturbing that he thinks a useless supplement will cure serious diseases and used his reputation as a world class doctor to dupe people into buying it:
Carson was a spokesman for Mannatech, which claimed its “glyconutrients” could treat cancer, autism, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. “The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, He gave us the right fuel,” Carson said in a 2013 speech praising the company. On Wednesday, he denied any involvement with Mannatech.
Carson even credited the supplements as being powerful enough that he didn’t need surgery for advanced prostate cancer. Dallas Weekly reported in a 2004 interview that Carson “said his decision to have a medical procedure resulted from his concern for those people who might neglect traditional medical procedures because they had learned of his personal experience with supplements.”
The neurosurgeon told Dallas Weekly that he had his prostate removed to be a role model.
“I knew that other people with my condition might not have been as religious about taking the supplements as I had been,” Carson said.
You’ll recall that on Wednesday, this man of allegedly great integrity said it was “propaganda” to say he endorsed this product when asked about it in the debate. Carson insists that while he was paid for some speeches he wasn’t a paid endorser and that he genuinely believes in the product. He must know that as attorney general, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, hardly a big government liberal, sued this company for false advertising. It’s hard to know whether it’s worse that he might be scamming vulnerable people with false hope or if he actually believes this product can cure diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. Either way, it’s yet another example of Ben Carson’s very, very odd duality: the brilliant neurosurgeon vs. the frighteningly vacuous public figure.
Carson is not the only Republican presidential candidate who takes a radically unorthodox approach to health care policy. Former Governor Mike Huckabee’s approach may be even weirder. Recall what he said in Wednesday’s debate:
HUCKABEE: We need to be focusing on what fixes this country. And I’ll tell you one thing that we never talk about — we haven’t talked about it tonight.
Why aren’t we talking about — instead of cutting benefits for old people, cutting benefits for sick people — why don’t we say, “let’s cure the four big cost-driving diseases…
QUICK: Governor?
HUCKABEE: …”diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s?”
QUICK: Governor, I’m sorry…
HUCKABEE: If you do that, you don’t just change the economy, you transform the lives of millions of hurting Americans.
And then he returned to it a bit later:
HUCKABEE: Well, and specifically to Medicare, Becky, because 85 percent of the cost of Medicare is chronic disease. The fact is if we don’t address what’s costing so much, we can’t throw enough money at this. And it’s why I’ve continued to focus on the fact that we need to declare war on the four big cost drivers because 80 percent of all medical costs in this country are chronic disease. We don’t have a health care crisis in America, we have a health crisis.
And until we deal with the health of Americans and do what we did with polio — when I was a little kid, we eradicated it. You know how much money we spent on polio last year in America? We didn’t spend any. We’ve saved billions of dollars.
You want to fix Medicare? Focus on the diseases that are costing us the trillions of dollars. Alzheimers, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Eradicate those and you fix Medicare and you’ve fixed America, its economy and you’ve made people’s lives a heck of a lot better.
Huckabee’s health care “plan” is to find cures for diseases so we that people don’t get sick anymore. And since he said this in the context of Medicare, he presumably believes that once we accomplish that, people will live forever.
Not that there’s anything wrong with putting effort into curing disease, of course. But Huckabee, being a doctrinaire anti-choice zealot would foreclose some of the most promising research into all of these diseases. The phony Planned Parenthood videos have accomplished their goal of inflaming the culture war against abortion but the unfortunate side-effect is that labs that have been dependent on fetal tissue research are now in danger of being unable to do their vital work.
Since July, an anti-abortion group’s deceptively edited videos targeting Planned Parenthood for allegedly profiting off sales of fetal tissue appear to have prompted at least four arson attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics. And even though the allegations were bogus, the vilification of the women’s health organization has done additional damage: Violent threats and a political chill in the wake of the videos have begun to undermine potentially life-saving research on diseases including diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Fetal-tissue donation programs essential to such research have been shut down, supplies of the tissue to labs have dwindled, and legislation is brewing in multiple states that could hinder cutting-edge scientific studies.
Many states are in the process of banning all fetal tissue research and there are plans to introduce a federal ban in the new Congress.
Ben Carson participated in some research that used fetal tissue, but he has distanced himself from the practice, calling any suggestion that he is a proponent of it “propaganda.” (Naturally.) Huckabee himself suffers from diabetes and, like Carson with the bogus cancer cure, he too has been involved with an “alternative medicine” outfit that sells a product (in this case a “kit” that tells people to exercise and diet) promising a cure for the disease.

There's more at the link.

Update: Oh my:


Armstrong Williams told CNN's Jake Tapper that he negotiated the retired neurosurgeon's contract himself.

Carson said in response to a question at Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate that it was "total propaganda" to suggest he had a relationship with Mannatech Inc., which claims to cure autism and cancer with its products and settled a $7 million false advertising lawsuit. National Review's Jim Geraghty, who reported on the candidate's ties to Mannatech earlier this year, called Carson's claim that he wasn't involved with the company a "bald-faced lie."

The audience loudly booed CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla when he asked Carson whether his ties to the company "speak to your vetting process or judgement in any way." "See, they know," Carson said, implying the question was off-base.

Yet Williams told Tapper on "The Lead" that he thought it was fair for Quintanilla to ask Carson about his ties to the company. He argued that Carson wasn't involved hammering out the details of his speeches or testimonials for the company, though.

"Nothing is ever what it appears to be," he said. "What is good about this is that I actually negotiated the contract as his business manager."

After Tapper played a clip of Carson speaking in a Mannatech promotional video, Williams started talking about an entirely different video that Carson appeared in for the company. He recounted that when Mannatech asked Carson to travel to Arizona to tape a special for PBS, Carson called him to express discomfort with the script the company provided. Carson ultimately ditched that script in favor of saying "what he wants to say," according to Williams.

"He said 'I don't believe this. I'm not going to do it,'" Williams said. "That was showing his integrity. And when that was over he made it clear to me 'You need to get me out of this, I'm not going to do this again.' And it was over."

Not that anyone will ever ask him about this again. It's a "gotcha" dontcha know. Those are only allowed for Democrats.

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