Sunday, December 11, 2016

Price Proves a Dangerous Appointment

Georgia congressman and medical doctor Tom Price is Donald Trump's nominee to be Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS). He's only known for his obsessive opposition to the Affordable Care Act so you can call him Doctor No. As disturbing as Price’s opposition to insuring that 20 million Americans continue to have access to health care is I’m even more concerned about his views on medical science.

As Secretary for Health and Human Services Price will set policy for a number of agencies including: the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – which does much of our basic biomedical and health-related, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – which among other things sets vaccine policy for this country, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – regulating pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food, diagnostics, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Dr. Tom Price belongs to a radical physician’s group called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). The associate requires its members to sign a “declaration of independence” pledging that they will not work with Medicare, Medicaid, or even private insurance companies. According to AAPS Principles of Medical Ethics, it is moral and ethical to refuse to treat patients who have Medicare or Medicaid. Apparently that means Price doesn’t believe in medical care for those over 65 or disabled because Medicare is the only insurer those folks have access to in my experience.

In addition the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is explicitly opposed to any form of government regulation of health care and considers the Food and Drug Administration to be unconstitutional. The association also inexplicably opposes organ donations.

The association publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons which often promotes articles on such junk science as the thoroughly debunked connection between autism and vaccinations as well as those denying the link between HIV and AIDS, claims that abortions cause breast cancer. The reason this is important is that no other journal will publish these papers due to the consistently poor quality of the research. This journal seems to prefer bad science as a criterion for publication.

If this were just matter of who was going to speak and the Lions Club annual benefit or the high school graduation none of this would matter. Instead we’re talking about whether or not the man who will lead one of the most important scientific agencies in the country actually accepts the scientific method we all should have learned in grammar school or high school science class. If he doesn’t as appears from his membership in the fringe Association of American Physicians and Surgeons the American people are in danger.

If the proverb “Whoever keeps company with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm” is true then Price is also a quack and we’ll be the ones suffering harm so he’s the last person who should be in charge of the nation’s healthcare resources.

Published in the Seguin Gazette December 9, 2016

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