Is There a Doctor In The House?
Suppose I’m an average American . . . I’m not exactly “low-info” or even politically apathetic, I’m just pretty busy having a life. I’ve got kids, a dog, a job and, now, a tetchy water heater that probably needs replacing. I just don’t have the bandwidth to turn over every rock in the political landscape and inventory the slugs living under them. I live in America the Exceptional so I take some things on faith.
For too long, now, I hear way too much about Obamacare and how it’s going to save or destroy the country and none of it makes a whole lot of sense. And since I have “real” health insurance for my family, through my job, I don’t really need to think about it. Right? I wouldn’t mind paying less for my share but it’s just way too risky to switch insurance when you have it.
So. This morning, on the way to work, I hear that some big organization for doctors has taken a case to the Supreme Court for an emergency hold on the Obamacare roll-out. That gets my attention—this isn’t crazy politicians with an ax to grind but real doctors. And doctors are smart and professional and they know what’s going on in the medical world. This sounds serious if the doctors are going all the way to the Supreme Court to stop Obamacare . . .
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OK. I read that, too. And I’m retired so I have lots of time to not take things “on faith” in 21st century America. The downside of that is that I am sometimes tempted to march off a cliff into the sea and never look back.
Whatever. Here is the news item that appeared this morning:
The Supreme Court has refused a group of doctors’ request to block implementation of the nation’s new health care law.
Chief Justice John Roberts turned away without comment Monday an emergency stay request from the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, Inc. and the Alliance for Natural Health USA.
They asked the chief justice Friday to temporarily block the law, saying Congress had passed it incorrectly by starting it in the Senate instead of the House. Revenue-raising bills are supposed to originate in the lower chamber. They also wanted blocked doctor registration requirements they say will make it harder for independent non-Medicare physicians to treat Medicare-eligible patients.
One little phrase in that item—“Chief Justice John Roberts turned away without comment . . . ” is an attention-getter. Supreme Court justices love to comment, they live to comment—Justice Scalia? I’m looking at you. So why do you suppose Justice Roberts did not care to comment on such a hot button suit.
Most of the time, when SCOTUS quickly despatches suits it is because the suits lack merit, are poorly presented or the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the case in the first place—or some combination thereof. But this suit was brought by the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, you’d think an outfit like that would have its ducks in a row and a crack legal team.
Well, guess again. AAPS general counsel happens to be Phyllis Schlafly’s pride and joy, her baby boy, Andy and the AAPS, which describes itself as non-partisan [always a red flag] is a small collection of ultraconservative “quacks, cranks and fundamentalist zealots which likes to rail against such timeless evils as abortion, vaccination and the idea of universal health care coverage.”
And, AAPS has been at this for quite a long time—since 1943, to be exact—when it joined the John Birchers in fighting socialized medicine. By the 21st century AAPS was limping along with about 3000 members, nationally, but then the TEA Party decided that they needed some “medical experts” to help them flesh out some of their policy positions and appear on Fox News, after which AAPS experienced a membership bump to 4000.
Some of those illustrious signups include:
John Cooksey, M.D., former Republican congressman from Louisiana who ran for the Senate in 2002 but lost in the GOP primary after controversy resulting from him comparing Middle Eastern turbans to “diapers fastened by fan belts.”
Ron Paul, M.D., former Republican congressman from Texas and erstwhile Republican Presidential candidate.
Sen. Rand Paul, M.D., Kentucky’s favorite eye doctor who created his own three member National Board of Opthalmology to avoid the recertification requirements of the American Board of Ophthalmology.
Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., (R-GA), a passionate critic of Obamacare who famously stated that “. . . the sciences of embryology, evolution, and the Big Bang are “lies straight from the Pit of Hell ... lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
Another AAPS member, Florida neurosurgeon David McKalip, was responsible for circulating that memorable Photoshop of Barack Obama as a witch-doctor with a bone through his nose, to a Tea Party mailing list.
AAPS likes to litigate and dabble in public policy. For example, AAPS was a third party in the Terry Schiavo case and sued the Federal Drug Administration to overturn approval of the “Plan B” morning after pill for over the counter use by women over 18.
AAPS also advocates for “freedom of conscience” which posits that patients can be denied legal drugs, treatments, and information based on the morals of the provider rather than the patient. Members view patient advance directives, designed for dignity at the end-of-life as a financial plot to kill patients in order to save money.
Back in 2009 Mother Jones contributor, Stephanie Mencimer, wrote a great piece exposing AAPS saying:
. . . despite the lab coats and the official-sounding name, the docs of the AAPS are hardly part of mainstream medical society. Think Glenn Beck with an MD.
In this fall’s edition of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, an economist who has previously received funding from Philip Morris wrote an article arguing that a tobacco tax “leads to deterioration in public health”—because it leads people to switch to cigarettes with more nicotine so they can smoke fewer of them.
For the AAPS journal, however, this is tame stuff. The publication’s archives present a kind of alternate-universe scientific world, in which abortion causes breast cancer and vaccines cause autism, but HIV does not cause AIDS. Cutting carbon emissions represents a grave threat to global health (because environmental regulation would make people poorer and, consequently, sicker). In 2005, the journal erroneously claimed that illegal immigration had caused a leprosy epidemic in the US, a claim that was reported as fact in more mainstream outlets such as Lou Dobbs’ show.
I can’t say I blame Justice Roberts for holding his comments on AAPS’s latest escapade. Maybe he’s hoping that, if you ignore them, they might go away.