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Letter from the Online Editor: June 2012

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | June 01, 2012
From the June 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Ron Paul and "health freedom"

While doing some research for our new DOTmed News survey (quick plug: dotmed.com/news/ survey), I found myself reading up on Republican long shot candidate Ron Paul's health care platform.

Did I say "long shot"? Really, next-to-impossible-shot. The day I'm writing this, Paul's campaign basically turned off the lights, so he's done. Still, even though there's no danger of Paul, a medical doctor, becoming president, some of his ideas have caught on and pundits have credited him with exerting a rightward pull on more mainstream GOP candidates.

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Now, I like some of the good doctor's ideas. Legalize marijuana? OK. Put the kybosh on imperial adventures abroad? Have at it.

But Paul's problem is these sensible solutions come wrapped in a thick outer layer of pure crankery. I'm not even talking about the goldbug stuff or his appearances on 911 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio show. I'm talking about "health freedom."

What is health freedom? As the breast cancer surgeon who blogs at Respectful Insolence under the name Orac wrote a couple of years ago, "What a wonderfully Orwellian term! After all, who could be against 'health freedom'? If you are, you're against freedom! It's like being against free speech, mom, the flag and apple pie."

But it's not so nice. "In actuality, 'health freedom' is nothing more than a clever catch phrase that in effect describes measures that allow quacks the freedom to hawk their wares unfettered by pesky interference from the FDA or FTC," Orac said.

Yup. Among Paul's list of things he'd accomplish in health care as president, according to his website, is this doozy: "Stop the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission from interfering with Americans' knowledge of and access to dietary supplements and alternative treatments."

Paul has also made, according to libertarian magazine Reason, "shout outs" to homeopathy during some of his speeches. So sad. Can we have a candidate with sensible foreign and drug policies who doesn't give "shout outs" to 18th century pseudoscience?

Really, now, is that so much to ask?

Brendon Nafziger
Online Editor
sruck@dotmed.com

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