Ugly Questions for Ron Paul

I thought Dr.Paul might have been a little mis-understood, when some Tea drinkers at the Republican debate cheered the death of the hypothetical uninsured 30 year old man. But TPM quotes him confirming his philosophy that health care should be completely privatized, and regulations are just bad for business–herbs and charity will fill the need.

Ron Paul told TPM on Wednesday that even if there’s a “case or two” that makes Americans uncomfortable, the government should stay out of the health care business. Even if one of the cases in question is his former campaign manager, Kent Snyder, who died with $400,000 in unpaid medical bills after being unable to secure health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, Paul took questions from reporters on Snyder, whose story surfaced in the press after Paul said in the last Republican debate that the government should not intervene even to save a comatose 30 year old who did not have insurance. As Gawker noted, Snyder died in June 2008 without health insurance, leaving behind $400,000 in bills. His friends and family set up a fund to raise money to pay off the debt. It’s not clear how much money they were able to raise: a site set up by Ron Paul aide Justine Lam to track the medical fund stopped updating in 2008 with only $34,870 in donations.

Later in the interview–

He also blamed the government for regulating medicine: “The federal government comes in and closes down shops that try to sell nutritional medicine and vitamins because the drug companies don’t want competition. That drives the prices up.”

And he’s aware that his stand can sound too cold-blooded for most Americans–

Paul added that “to twist it around and say that we have no compassion and we just throw people on the street, that to me is getting pretty ugly.”

I have some ugly questions for Dr.Paul, right here–

1. Who picked up the remaining bill for your campaign manager? Did it come anonymously from principled Libertarians, or from the government? Who do you think is already paying for uninsured people when they show up at the emergency room? How much free care could hospitals give to save lives if they didn’t get government money to provide it?

2. Did you know Kent Snyder was sick? Did you offer him any advice or help as he worked for you? Young people do die of pneumonia, but more often it’s treatable. Do you think lack of insurance might have kept him from seeing a doctor early. Do you blame him for that?

3.Do you agree that insurance companies should deny people with pre-existing conditions to maximize profits? Will that be one of your campaign platforms?

4. Can you give an example of an herb or alternative store that was closed down and why? I see them doing business all over the place. Does the government ever have the right to close down an alternative business for say, selling a cure for cancer that doesn’t work? Selling tainted or mis-labled medicine? I had a patient who was blinded by an eyedrop he got in his home country, where he had no conventional medicine to help him. Should we protect the public here from dangerous and quack remedies?

5.Does your belief that medicine should be ‘pay as you go’ extend to babies and children? If not, why not?

6. As a doctor, do you see a problem in the lack of continuity when people are forced to seek care from charity clinics and emergency rooms? Do you think we waste resources and lives by starting from scratch every time the patient seeks care, rather than having one medical home where their records are on file and they know their providers? Would you trade your own secure health care for this kind of ‘freedom’?

7. Do you see prayer as a substitute for medical treatment? If parents use prayer instead of medicine for a child’s treatable illness and the child is at risk of death, does the government have a right to take custody of the child? These cases come up regularly, and even worse, children die because parents refused to take their child to a doctor. Do you think that lack of access to conventional care will drive people to faith healers and ineffective but cheap herbal remedies?

I have to hit the road now, I have clients to see for home care. I’m grateful every day for Medicare. Seven adult children are very tired these days caring for our sick father, and Hospice has given us help and support that make it possible for him to stay at home in comfort and dignity. It’s interesting seeing this situation as both a provider and recipient of help.

Ron Paul says we won’t throw people out on the street to die, and he’s right. We are not that kind of society. But people will die– killed by neglect, by too little too late, quietly and un-noticed unless it’s someone you love. Some will kill you with a fountain pen, as Woody said.

So, how do you think Dr.Paul would answer these questions?

AND ANOTHER THING: There’s something funny about the way Rep.Dr.Paul keeps talking as if herbs and alternative medicine were in a fugitive underground somewhere. You can buy herbs and alternative medicines at the supermarket– though I’d put a word in for Providence local business Farmacy Herbs. When you go to Whole Foods or GNC, you are protected by laws that say the ingredients have to be listed on the label, so you know what you’re getting. And unlike the good old days, you can’t spike some herb tea with opium and sell it as a cure-all. We’ve been there, done that, don’t want a re-run.

REMEMBER STEVE MC QUEEN: Brilliant and handsome actor, died tragically of cancer. He tried an alternative medicine called Laetrile. Remember that? Naturally derived from apricot pits, miracle cure for cancer. The only problem was that every reputable drug trial showed it to be ineffective and poisonous in large doses. Laetrile never passed the first step for any new drug in development– a Phase 1 clinical trial that tests for safety, never mind the Phase 2 for effectiveness…

As Laetrile became newsworthy, several cancer victims treated with it drew widespread media scrutiny. One was Chad Green, who developed acute lymphocytic leukemia at age 2. Although he was rapidly brought into remission with chemotherapy, his parents started him on “metabolic therapy” administered by a Manner Metabolic Physician. When Chad developed signs of cyanide toxicity, Massachusetts authorities had him declared a ward of the court for treatment purposes only. His parents then brought suit to reinstitute “metabolic therapy.” When the court ruled against them, they fled with Chad to Mexico, where he was treated by Dr. Contreras. Several months later Chad died in a manner suggestive of cyanide poisoning. Dr. Contreras stated that the boy had died of leukemia, but was a good example of the effectiveness of Laetrile because he had died a pleasant death! Chad’s parents stated that he had become very depressed because he missed his grandparents, his friends and his dog.

Follow this link for an epic story of unfounded claims, conspiracy theories and shady practices around Laetrile.

I have the greatest sympathy for parents of a sick child, and for people facing a serious illness. They are in desperate circumstances and should be protected, not thrown into the mix of legit medicine and quacks with no advocate or defender. Medicine fails, people die, humans are not gods. All we can do is make the best choices we can with the knowledge we have. When people seek alternative remedies they deserve transparency and accountability from the providers, and protection from false claims and tainted ingredients, protection from exploitation and the consequences of delaying conventional treatments that offer a known chance of cure.  It’s possible to be pro- alternative medicine and anti-quack. I am.

I actually think some of Rep.Paul’s critiques of our over-technical, expensive, pill-pushing medical system are valid and deserve discussion. But using the flaws of the present system to justify triaging the poor and working class out of care so that the rich can enjoy top-shelf services is truly ugly, and there’s nothing Rep.Paul is saying that offers a real answer to the millions of Americans who do not have secure access to care.

MORE: Susan at Daily Kos cites examples of adults and children who died for lack of timely care, including her own brother. This is not the America we want to be.


9 thoughts on “Ugly Questions for Ron Paul

  1. From the article:
    “I had a patient who was blinded by an eyedrop he got in his home country, where he had no conventional medicine to help him. Should we protect the public here from dangerous and quack remedies?”

    Most of the “quack remedies” come from conventional medicine, not alternative medicine. Every single pharmaceutical drug that requires a prescription is dangerous to the health of anyone who take it, even as prescribed. In fact, taking them as prescribed is one of the top five leading causes of death.

    The problem with conventional medicine is it only addresses the symptoms and does very little to effect a cure for any kind of sickness or disease. On the other hand, alternative medicine addresses the root cause of sickness and disease. Alternative remedies do not provide immediate relief of symptoms because effecting a cure takes much longer to bring about than just masking the symptoms until something worse surfaces in the patient.

    1. thanks for your comment. My philosophy of nursing is ‘whatever works’. I believe my life was saved by Penicillin when I was a teenager and had a skin infection that faith healing did not do a thing for. I have seen patients get much better when they had the right meds and took them right. But there are dangers to prescription drugs and each individual has to do what works best for them. I think using both conventional and alternative medicine is a good approach, especially for conditions like chronic pain, mood disorders, and for promoting wellness.
      I have also seen people use a prescription drug to control a condition like hypertension while they worked on other strategies like exercise and wieght loss, and then were able to taper off the med.
      In any case, it’s important for people to have protection from fraud and dangerous medicines, whether conventional or alternative.

      1. I agree with your approach of going on a case by case basis.
        Mr.Schmidt probably hasn’t been critically ill or he wouldn’t treat us to such an ignorant diatribe-I have,and in at least one case it was due specifically to medication.
        I don’t know what that means-avoid medication?No.
        it means try to be aware of what you’re taking and make intelligent decisions about when maybe not taking something.
        There is really no easy answer.I’ve taken insulin for 22 years for diabetes instead of oral meds like Glucopahge(not bad)and Avandia(really bad)and I’ve done reasonably well,although no one ever beats that disease.
        I had highly toxic radiation therapy for lymphoma 30 years ago-it left aftereffects,but less than MOPP chemo would have.
        I have been treated surgically for another cancer on and of for 11 years now,and no drugs except post surgical pain meds.
        Just recently I was given a combination of very strong antiobiotics for a leg infection-one of the drugs trashed my foot tendons and it sucks-but it beat having my right foot/leg amputated.
        I just can’t understand Mr.Schmidt’s all or nothing approach.
        Some nontraditional treatment works-I keep an open mind.
        Note:Kevin-if you cut yourself on a feces contaminated nail,get a tetanus shot.
        I don’t ahve a spleen,so I take a pneumovax shot every five years-am I a jerk for that?

    2. This reply is something I knew I should have said earlier-yes,most,if not all prescription drugs have dangerous aspects.
      It is logical that anything with the power to heal,which really means destroy pathogens or alter conditions,must also be sort of a double edged sword.There’s no free lunch in treating serious conditions.
      I’ve had a total of maybe 18 or so surgical operations and none of them were for vanity reasons nor were any unecessary.I can assure you none were enjoyable but I am the better off for having had them,despite some real permanent damage they left.
      The problems arise when practitioners misuse their allowable discretion for any of a number of reasons,including but not limited to profit.
      Some doctors are just sloppy and don’t take the time to think through what they should do.
      They’re all humans with all the imperfections we share.

  2. wow, I’ve heard more than one person says they had tendon damage from antibiotics. I’m guessing it’s a quinolone like cipro? Sometimes you have to do what you have to do, especially with diabetes. did your tendon damage go away after you were off the antibiotics?

    1. No-it didn’t go away,and I have only been able to walk intermittently for the last month-actually,I noticed it the day after I got home and called and they pulled the Cipro-like quinolone(A+ nurse)called moxifloxacin and replaced it with cephalexin and doxycycline,neither of which bother me at all.
      BTW I also had IV vancomycin in the hospital along with the quinolone drug.
      Funny thing is,I’ve routinely taken Levoquin for surgery and no problems.
      This problem has actually gotten worse-I’m in a small remission since yesterday-climbing stairs is a lot of fun.LOL.
      They could never identify the bacteria and I never had an open cut so who knows?

  3. Yeah-but usually,the underlying condition is so severe that there’s little choice-a good friend of mine got peritonitis and was on Cipro for awhile-he couldn’t walk for 4 months afterward without crutches.

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