Secular Right | Reality & Reason

TAG | Orrin Hatch

Sep/12

5

Lunatic, Asylum, etc.

Just when you think that David Cameron’s stumblebum government cannot get any worse, here’s a piece of news that does not bode well for British patients, taxpayers or both.

Tom Chivers writes in The Daily Telegraph:

The man [just] put in charge of the [UK’s] health policy is on record as supporting spending public money on magic water to cure disease. Here’s the text of an Early Day Motion he signed in 2007:

That this House welcomes the positive contribution made to the health of the nation by the NHS homeopathic hospitals; notes that some six million people use complementary treatments each year; believes that complementary medicine has the potential to offer clinically-effective and cost-effective solutions to common health problems faced by NHS patients, including chronic difficult to treat conditions such as musculoskeletal and other chronic pain, eczema, depression, anxiety and insomnia, allergy, chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome; expresses concern that NHS cuts are threatening the future of these hospitals; and calls on the Government actively to support these valuable national assets.

And here’s the letter Mr Hunt sent to a concerned constituent who pointed out that homeopathy doesn’t work:

Dear Mr Ellis,

Thank you very much for your letter regarding EDM 1240 in support of Homeopathic Hospitals. I appreciate that you are disappointed that I added my name to this motion, and read your comments on this issue with interest.

I understand that it is your view that homeopathy is not effective, and therefore that people should not be encouraged to use it as a treatment. However I am afraid that I have to disagree with you on this issue. Homeopathic care is enormously valued by thousands of people and in an NHS that the Government repeatedly tells us is “patient-led” it ought to be available where a doctor and patient believe that a homeopathic treatment may be of benefit to the patient.

I am grateful to you for taking the time to write with your concerns. I realise that my answer will be a disappointing one for you, but I hope that the letter helps to clarify my view.

Yours sincerely,
(Signed)
Jeremy Hunt Member of Parliament South West Surrey

Hat-tip to Chris Coltrane on Twitter and the Mote Prime blog.

I probably don’t need to rehearse this, but: homeopathy does not work. Homeopathy is the treatment of disease using literally non-existent amounts of ingredients which wouldn’t cure the problem even if they were actually there. It is not to be confused with herbal medicine, which often involves real active substances (eg aspirin, which is distilled from willow-bark). If homeopathy worked, we would need to explain how this non-existent substance did what it does: but it doesn’t work, so we don’t. Homeopathic hospitals are not “valuable national assets”, they’re £7-million-a-year white elephants for middle-class hypochondriac hippies.

This is not unlike putting someone who thinks the Second World War began in 1986 in charge of the Department of Education.

Or following the advice of foes of the taxpayer like Orrin Hatch, the numbskull who wanted Christian Science prayer ‘treatments’ added to Obamacare’s bounty.

Hunt should be fired.

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Apr/12

22

Hatch, Back?

As Orrin Hatch is forced to face a primary challenge, here’s a little reminder from 2009 about the (very) long-serving senator’s attitude towards taxpayers’ money:

WASHINGTON — Backed by some of the most powerful members of the Senate, a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.

The provision was inserted by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with the support of Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry and the late Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, home to the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist.

The measure would put Christian Science prayer treatments — which substitute for or supplement medical treatments — on the same footing as clinical medicine. While not mentioning the church by name, it would prohibit discrimination against “religious and spiritual healthcare.”

It would have a minor effect on the overall cost of the bill — Christian Science is a small church, and the prayer treatments can cost as little as $20 a day. But it has nevertheless stirred an intense controversy over the constitutional separation of church and state, and the possibility that other churches might seek reimbursements for so-called spiritual healing.

As I wrote back at the time, in this context I could not care less about the separation of church and state, but I do care a great deal about the separation of the taxpayer from his money. Senator Hatch clearly did not.

In the event, the proposed change did not get through, but that Hatch even tried this stunt is a reminder that, when it comes to protecting the taxpayer, Hatch is not a man who can be trusted.

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Apr/10

4

Casper The Friendly Social Worker

If true (can the Dutch have gone quite so crazy?), this is the story (via the Daily Telegraph)  of a scheme so loopy that Orrin Hatch could probably be persuaded to use taxpayer dollars to fund it over here:

Dutch prisons are using psychics to give jailed criminals guidance by putting them in touch with their dead relatives. Paul van Bree, a self-styled “paragnost” or clairvoyant, has been hired by the Dutch prison service to teach prisoners how to “love themselves”.

“I tell them that dead relatives are doing well and that they love them. That brings them peace. Big strong men burst into tears,” he said…

… The Dutch employment service has also looked beyond the normal to use “regression therapy” and tarot cards to help the jobless.

Uncooperative welfare claimants have been told they will lose benefits unless they accept the guidance of a regression therapist to help them get in touch with their past lives.

In 2007, 42,500 Dutch people signed up to state funded spiritually-based “personal development programmes”.

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Mar/10

30

More Healthcare/Taxpayer Money Down The Drain

One of the dangers of extending the reach of the federal government still further into healthcare is the way that it will enhance the ability of politicians to pursue their own particular hobby horses at taxpayer expense. We were given early warning of this when (as mentioned earlier) Senators Hatch and Kerry attempted to ensure that Obamacare should cover Christian Science ‘prayer treatments’.
 
Now, it seems, there is this:
 

A little-noticed provision of the health legislation has rescued federal support for a controversial form of sex education: teaching youths to remain virgins until marriage. The bill restores $250 million over five years for states to sponsor programs aimed at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases by focusing exclusively on encouraging children and adolescents to avoid sex. The funding provides at least a partial reprieve for the approach, which faced losing all federal support under President Obama’s first two budgets.

 

Note that “exclusively”. There’s nothing wrong with teaching ‘abstinence’ within the context of a more general sex education course, but despite (to be fair) some recent data to the contrary, preaching it in isolation doesn’t seem to be particularly effective. Note too that once again Orrin Hatch appears to have been involved in throwing other people’s money away in pursuit of, well, let’s just call it a long shot.

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Mar/10

26

Obamacare & Religious Privilege

I don’t know what eventually happened to the curious  proposal  (via Senators Hatch and Kerry) that Obamacare should cover Christian Science prayer ‘treatments’, but it does appear that the notion of religious privilege is alive and well elsewhere in the new healthcare legislation:

Fox News has the details (a phrase that always fills me with anticipation):

Most Americans would have to prove they have insurance or face a fine under the health reform legislation that is now nearing the finish line in Congress, but at least one group won’t have to worry, on religious grounds. Democrats are planning to exempt the Amish and similar religious groups from the health insurance mandate in the final health care bill. That’s because when the Amish need medical care, they go to regular doctors and hospitals and pay in cash often with financial help from their church and neighbors. They rely on each other, not the government or insurance companies as a tenet of their faith. “The Amish believe it’s the fundamental responsibility of the church to care for the material needs of the members of the church,” said Steven Nolt, a professor at Goshen College who has written books on the Plain community of Amish.

“And so they don’t buy commercial health insurance and they don’t participate in public assistance programs.” So while most Americans would be required to sign up with insurance companies or government insurance plans, the church would serve as something of an informal insurance plan for the Amish. Law experts say that kind of exemption withstands scrutiny.

“Here the statue is going to say that people who are conscientiously opposed to paying for health insurance don’t have to do it where the conscientious objection arises from religion,” said Mark Tushnet a Harvard law professor. “And that’s perfectly constitutional.”

This would not be the first time the Amish received this type of special accommodation. Congress exempted this and other communities from Social Security and Medicare taxes since 1965 for the same religious reasons.

 

I have little doubt that all this is constitutional, but it still leaves the impression that some forms of belief are more equal than others.

Via American Thinker, where there is also speculation that this exemption could also apply to some Muslims. At least on some interpretations of Islamic law health insurance is apparently forbidden.

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