Not The Onion, Part The Infinity

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Thighmaster General
Thighmaster General

Without a hint of satire, The Wall Street Journal decided to let Suzanne Somers write an article on the Affordable Care Act on their blog “The Experts.” Somers “expertise” comes from her celebrity access to doctors, scientists, and medical professionals in the “alternative and integrative” health-care world. Somers has been on Oprah pushing her concept of wellness which involves taking 60 pills a day and injecting hormones into her vagina.

The CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) health-care world is waging an all out attack against science-based medicine and health care. As Dr. Steven Novella puts it:

The later terms, “complementary” and “integrative,” are deceptions meant to distract from the fact the CAM (as much as general statements can be made about such a loose category) is anti-science, and therefore cannot be integrated into science.

Somers claims that affordable health care is socialized medicine. Princeton University economist Uwe E. Reinhardt notes: “Socialized medicine refers to systems that couple social health insurance with government-owned and operated health care facilities.” Reinhardt uses the Veterans Affairs health system as an example of socialized medicine. When health insurance is coupled with purely private health care delivery systems, it is understood as “social health insurance,” for example in Canada.

Somers provides anecdotal evidence of a long wait time to see a doctor for her sister-in-law. Somers does not mention the wait times for 48 million Americans who can’t go to a doctor at all because they don’t have insurance.

Somers talks about her Canadian cousins who, after becoming doctors, came the U.S. to “reap financial rewards.” Somers doesn’t mention that Canada spends 11.4% of it GDP on health expenditures while the U.S. spends 17.4%.

Somers notes that it’s good that affordable care will cover pre-existing conditions. Everybody loves the coverage of pre-existing conditions. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the extra cost of that coverage isn’t going to be borne by the insurance companies.

Somers mentions that the news she listens to is all about the increases in insurance premiums. Had Somers examined the stories more closely, she would have found out that most just don’t hold water. Some people have such pitiful, and cheap, insurance policies that they don’t meet the ACA’s guidelines. Insurance companies have no incentive to get the customer the cheapest policy that meets those guidelines. It’s like a car salesman telling a customer their 2010 Toyota Camry needs to be replaced and sending them a bill for a 2013 Toyota Avalon when a 2013 Camry will meet their needs.

Somers is just another woo peddler whose celebrity has faded.

H/T: Daniel D’Addario, John Casey, Sarah Kliff, Steve M., Jerry Coyne.

106 thoughts on “Not The Onion, Part The Infinity

  1. How old is smiley face? Does that age factor have something to do with her interest in socialized medical care? As we get closer to the grave we should care less. As we get closer to infatuation with medical care and as we get on some program where we see a doctor more often than we see our grandkids then we have a problem America is addicted to doctors. Doctors can prescribe drugs. This nerd Somers is probably an addict. Nuff said.

  2. Suzanne Somers, expert on nothing
    By Michael Hiltzik
    October 30, 2013,0,7782801.story#axzz2jaEXLtvk

    Noted healthcare economist Suzanne Somers received a full screen’s worth of valuable Wall Street Journal online space the other day to deliver her judgment on the Affordable Care Act. Before we get to the substance of her argument, let’s acknowledge that her piece has added to her worldwide fame. It may not do great things for the Journal’s reputation, though.

    Somers, last seen hawking exercise equipment and cure-all elixirs in infomercials and her website, declared the act to be a “Socialist Ponzi Scheme.” She wrote: “Let’s call affordable health care what it really is: It’s socialized medicine.” This viewpoint probably conforms to that of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, in which case they deserve each other.

    But in terms of facts: Sorry, no. The Affordable Care Act actually leaves U.S. healthcare in the hands of the private insurance industry. That’s not socialism. As for calling the act “a greater Ponzi scheme than that pulled off by Bernie Madoff,” it’s embarrassing even to have to debunk this. Suffice to say it shows Somers to know nothing about (a) Ponzi schemes, (b) Bernie Madoff, or (c) the Affordable Care Act. But we knew that.

    Somers uses this assertion to veer into an extended rant about the Canadian healthcare system, which of course isn’t what we have in the United States. In any event, she gets the facts and figures about the Canadian system wildly wrong, as this post by Aaron Carroll, a true-to-life healthcare expert, explains.

    The real question raised by Somers’ post, which has already generated a three-part correction, is whether the Wall Street Journal has any standards at all for what it publishes in this online feature labeled, we assume not facetiously, “The Experts.”

    Presumably the Journal is above featuring blond actresses on its website purely as clickbait, but then what’s the answer? The blog’s editor, Larry Rout, told the Poynter Institute’s MediaWire that its goal is to showcase “a variety of viewpoints” from a “growing group of elite panelists.” Yes, but where does Somers fit in again?

    Certainly there’s nothing new about entertainment figures being sought after for their views on the weighty issues of the day. Celebrity can be a powerful instrument when it serves laudable causes — antipoverty, peace, universal healthcare. It can also be dangerous. The starlet Jenny McCarthy, lately awarded a spot on the popular talk show “The View,” is a noted anti-vaccine campaigner, a movement that causes illness and death.

    The exploitation of star power on behalf of any public issue, pro or con, should be treated with great caution, lest you end up with cases like Dr. Oz giving the unqualified green light to the potentially hazardous activity of tackle football in school, a disgraceful act we reported on a few days ago.

    When someone like Somers is labeled an “expert,” red flags should wave. Unless, that is, you subscribe to the theory put forth by the late Sen. Roman Hruska of Nebraska, who defended President Nixon’s nomination of the resoundingly mediocre judge G. Harold Carswell to the Supreme Court by arguing, “There are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they?” By that standard, sure: Suzanne Somers is an expert.

  3. Well, I went back to bed and woke up, opened the blog and did not have to look at Thighmaster’s face smiling at us. Instead I had to look at Ted Cruz’ dad. Jeso.

  4. Yeah, they ruled on the INDIVIDUAL MANDATE to PURCHASE Obamacare——-NOT on the law ITSELF. You said the ACA was constitutional because the SC ruled it was. You’re WRONG. They never ruled on the constitutionality of the law ITSELF. They ruled on PROVISIONS OF the law—–not the LAW ITSELF. What you just posted actually supports what I said—so thank you!

    Hmmm….I haven’t seen or read of any other “constitutional challenges” to the ACA. Have you?


  5. Don’t criticize Suzanne Somers so much. She is about 66 years old, and I think she looks fabulous. And I don’t think that can be attributed to nips and tucks, though she might have had a few. The fact is, she’s been into good diets and regular exercise for decades. Insofar as her looks and health are concerned, she must be doing something right!

    Maybe we can learn a thing or two from her expertise. And besides, in spite of her “dumb blonde” acting role that she’s been most associated with, the woman is obviously very smart too. So let’s give credit where credit is due.

  6. Ralph, your comment about Suzanne Somers makes me think you are but one of the shallow men out there. You are proving my point that so much of rightwing media like the Fox Channel is based on selling their viewpoints through sex. I know a lot of women Suzanne’s age who look just as ‘fabulous’ as she does and never pumped vitamins into their bodies, had no surgery and are hot without injecting their vaginas with whatever. But, hey, I’m not a man who fantasizes that women like Ms.Somers may actually pick them out of a mob of lechers. I mean, just the word ‘fabulous’ makes me cringe. You sound like an immature teenager trying to make a compliment to a girl. Grow up: her ‘fabulous’ look at age 66 does not make her an ‘expert’ on health care and the WSJ looks idiotic with printing her article.

  7. I’m pretty sure her expertise is limited to finding ways to get Jack and Janet in trouble with the Ropers or Mr. Furley.

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