Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Politics

Say it ain’t so, Barack! Again.

I realize that I made perhaps the biggest splash I’ve made on this blog in a very, very long time when I wrote about the news reports and rumors that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was being seriously considered for a high ranking post in the new Obama Administration. Fortunately, this is not yet another post about RFK, Jr. There’s only so much antivaccinationist and pseudoscientific lunacy I can take. Unfortunately, however, it’s another touch of woo associated with the new administration. Even though I don’t think it means much, chiropractors seem to be interpreting it as a nod of support:

I am glad to have this opportunity to again share my thoughts on the role doctors of chiropractic play in the American health care system. As I have said before, doctors of chiropractic play an important role in our health care system, and my commitment to you and your patients remains strong.

As I have said, I believe steps should be taken to acknowledge the important care provided by doctors of chiropractic. We need to knock down unreasonable barriers of access and discriminatory insurance coverage so Americans in need of quality chiropractic care can access it without difficulty. We need to expand the range of chiropractic services covered by Medicare, facilitate integration of doctors of chiropractic into the health care systems of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, and allow commission of doctors of chiropractic as officers in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. And again, under my health care plan, many, if not all, chiropractic services would be included in the benefit package offered in the public plan.

Ugh. His health care plan would cover “many, if not all” chiropractic services? This is not what I want to hear from a new President. I realize that I won’t like everything Obama does, but this pandering to unscientific health care modalities does not bode particularly well. As I’ve said before, chiropractors are in essence physical therapists with delusions of grandeur. A good physical therapist is worth a gaggle of chiropractors.

But I’m curious. What did Obama mean by “all services”? Depending on the flavor of chiropractic, chiropractic services can range from fairly evidence-based manipulation that is not far removed from straight physical therapy to total woo like craniosacral manipulation, “touchless” chiropractic, and all manner of “chiropractic treatment” for allergies, infections, and all manner of diseases and conditions for which there’s no science-based reason to think that spinal manipulation will do one whit of good. Will Obama’s plan pay for such woo?

This letter was probably the usual politician sending a letter to a group whose support he wants or whom he at least doesn’t want to piss off too badly. Even so, I find it a little disturbing. A pro-science administration would be very, very careful about what chiropractic services it pays for. The more mundane, physical therapy-like services might merit coverage, but the woo does not.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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