Is Dr. Andrew Weil trying to torpedo healthcare reform?

Many advocates of “alternative” health are left wing idealists. Therefore, it comes as a surprise that, on the issue of healthcare reform, they are missing in action, or worse. Many appear determined to torpedo healthcare reform and the reasons why shed a lot of light on their belief that cossetting the “worried well” is more important than providing healthcare for the poor.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Although “alternative” health practitioners are forever insisting that their quackery provides effective treatment and even cure, they make no effort to offer compassionate, or free care. There is not a doctor alive who hasn’t provided substantial amounts of free care to patients who cannot pay. Indeed, there are entire hospitals who consider it their mission to serve the underserved. In contrast, it appears that alternative health practitioners exist to help only those who can pay, and consider the poor unworthy of their concern.

Alternative health practitioners approach healthcare reform as would any special interest group. The most important question is: “What’s in it for alternative health care practitioners?” They are irritated by the answer: Of the millions of dollars that would be expended providing healthcare to the underserved, not much would go to them. To their dismay, the President and Congress appear to believe that providing access to care for people who already have diseases like cancer and heart disease is more important than lining the pockets of charlatans.

They’re fighting back. Dr. Andrew Weil appears to be leading the charge. His multi-million dollar financial empire is not enough. He needs more money, and therefore, he presents absurd drivel wit an apparently straight face. Writing on the Huffington Post recently (The Wrong Diagnosis), Dr. Weil offered this bit on inanity:

Washington is working on reform initiatives that focus on one problem: the fact that the system is too expensive (and consequently too exclusive.) Reform proposals, such as the “public option” for government insurance or calls for drug makers to drop prices, are aimed mostly at boosting affordability and access. Make it cheap enough, the thinking goes, and the 46 million Americans who can’t afford coverage will finally get their fair share.

But what’s missing, tragically, is a diagnosis of the real, far more fundamental problem, which is that what’s even worse than its stratospheric cost is the fact that American health care doesn’t fulfill its prime directive — it does not help people become or stay healthy. It’s not a health care system at all; it’s a disease management system, and making the current system cheaper and more accessible will just spread the dysfunction more broadly.

It might be amusing prattle were it not so cruel and so selfish. Evidently we shouldn’t worry about providing care to the underserved who already have cancer, heart disease and other life threatening conditions (you know, those pesky people with pre-existing conditions). Making cancer treatment, heart surgery and other life saving treatments available will “just spread the dysfunction.” Sure it might save the lives of those who are currently suffering, but who cares about them? It won’t provide Dr. Weil and his colleagues with more money and that’s what counts.

Dr. Weil’s prescription?

Most cases of disease should be managed in other, more affordable ways. Functional, cost-effective health care must be based on a new kind of medicine that relies on the human organism’s innate capacity for self-regulation and healing. It would use inexpensive, low-tech interventions for the management of the commonest forms of disease. It would be a system that puts the health back into health care. And it would also happen to be far less expensive than what we have now.

In other words, give the money to Dr. Weil and his colleagues. Will their methods work? Do they offer relief for those who are already ill? Do they cost less?

To even ask those questions is to miss the point. Who cares what happens to poor people? They can’t pay for alternative “treatments,” they don’t buy books, and it is too late to prevent the diseases they have. In other words, Dr. Weil and his colleagues can’t make any money from their misery. Weil makes money from the worried well. Hence his emphasis on providing even more services for those who already have plenty.

In his zeal to mine healthcare reform for personal profit, Dr. Weil comes strikingly close to the insurance and pharmaceutical companies he claims to despise. They are considering how healthcare reform might be manipulated to line their own pockets. Dr. Weil fails to acknowledge to himself and others that his “prescription” for reform is just as transparently self-interested.He promotes only that which he and his colleagues can provide without regard to whether that is what is needed.

Anyone who opposes healthcare reform simply because it provides more money for others and not for him is selfish and cruel indeed.

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