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Tuesday, January 24, 2017


From the people you trust

by Tom Sullivan

The newest, improvedest Republican Obamacare replacement plan is called the Patient Freedom Act of 2017, because of course it is. The bill was introduced yesterday by Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine. Cassidy is a doctor. You can trust him:

Under the proposal, states could stay with the Affordable Care Act, or they could receive a similar amount of federal money, which consumers could use to pay for medical care and health insurance. “We are moving the locus of repeal to state government,” Mr. Cassidy said. “States should have the right to choose.”
States' rights are good for you, says the seersuckered Louisiana physician. The subhead for Charlie Pierce's comments on the proposal claims, "You're gonna be so free, you're gonna get sick of it."
“Obamacare is flawed, failing and not fixable, and it needs to be fully repealed,” said Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.
Meadows, my ever-freedom-lovin' congressman, was a Florida real estate developer before he turned to a life of obstruction. You can trust him. If it's not a legitimate repeal, Meadows' Freedom Caucus has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

On the matter of whom you can trust, Alan Levinovitz has a worthwhile read at Slate:
Many who trust Trump to heal our body politic do so for the same reasons that people like my friend—normal, reasonable people—trust quacks to heal their bodies. They have been swayed by a powerful confluence of factors—specifically, epistemic uncertainty, existential panic, and anti-elitism. These factors ensure that even when reality hits, when insurance rates go up but the wall does not, the marks will place the blame somewhere else.

Epistemic uncertainty—the idea that traditional sources of knowledge cannot be trusted—has long been exploited by disingenuous medical gurus to attract patients. Their techniques mirror those that Trump brought to the broader public: Earn sympathy by identifying genuine problems—corrupt pharmaceutical companies that suppress data and bribe doctors, for instance, or entrenched corporate lobbying in Washington. But instead of proposing nuanced fixes—as an honest person would—exploiters of epistemic uncertainty turn these legitimate critiques into crude rhetorical bombs that allow them to attack the entire system. Big Pharma becomes a deceptive force of satanic proportion, invoked by anyone who wants to hawk an unproven treatment or assert the dangers of a treatment proven safe.
Donald Trump, a cross between P.T. Barnum and Minnesota Fats, is a political version of the New Age faith healer of the sort I came to know too well here in the 1990s. Levinovitz elaborates:
Charlatans, who are inevitably populists, know why their audience is listening: Elites have wronged the public, failed to solve their problems, sometimes even caused them. When the people fell ill, doctors said there was nothing to be done. When they complained about black crime in their neighborhood, they were called racists. When they chose to be stay-at-home Christian mothers, they were called backward failures. When they tried to create jobs by drilling for oil, the government regulated them. When they made lots of money in banking, liberal academics blamed them for exacerbating income inequality.

The charlatans give them a new refrain: We know our bodies best, not the elites. We know our jobs best, not the elites. We have the right to choose our own solutions. We reject the elites.
I knew a young woman with porcelain skin who contracted some common skin infection back in the 1990s. It was the sort of thing a physician might knock out with a prescription. But she didn't trust western medicine. She went for months using "natural" remedies to heal herself as her face grew more mottled, swollen and pockmarked. It was a painful thing to watch and surely worse for her. When finally she became desperate enough to seek licensed medical help, the damage was done. The infection cleared up, but her face would never be the same. I don't know if she chalked that up to the failure of western medicine or not.

Pray we are not all looking in the mirror just a few years of Trumpism from now and blaming the failures on the "know somethings."