Different Car, Same Driver by Pat Conrad MD

Years ago at a medical school reunion, a graduate from an earlier year stood up to proudly proclaim how much he was donating to the school, to set the example for the rest of us.  The moment someone starts doing ostentatious good is the moment I mistrust and dislike him.

So enter former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Senator Ted “Chappaquiddick” Kennedy, a do-gooder with other peoples’ money if ever there was one.  If you forgot, the insufferable son was arrested in 2006 for crashing into a barricade near the capitol in D.C.  He had just left a bar, claimed he was late for a vote that had already happened, and blamed his state on Ambien and Phenergan.  So Kennedy didn’t seek reelection, and instead became a mental health advocate, citing his long experience with bipolarism and substance abuse.

By way of a bipartisan statement, I have hated the failed War on Drugs since the Reagan years, through every administration.  It is especially galling to see physicians fall for this open-ended, no-win assault on a problem that government does not have the means to fix.  Now it’s the War on Opioids, and who should sit on the current administration’s opioid commission but L’il Patrick himself.  In fact Kennedy is “the CEO of the behavioral health nonprofit Kennedy Forum, which is funded in part by major drug makers and addiction-treatment companies. He received more than $1.1 million in total compensation from the organization between 2014 and 2016.”  And without a bar tab, that nets a nice payment toward the pool.  “Kennedy also sits on the boards of eight corporations deeply invested in Washington’s response to the opioid crisis, from which he said he collects director fees and holds an equity stake in the firms.”

Not that a disgraced pol-turned-big-bucks-lobbyist is anything new in D.C., even though Kennedy insists that he’s not strictly a lobbyist.  As a “non” lobbyist, Kennedy constantly advocates spending more of other peoples’ money on combatting addiction, and the firms in which he has a stake will likely get sprayed with tax dollars the more the White House fights opioids.  His firms also peddle pain and opioid management drugs, and a “brain sensing headband” that promotes meditation as an addiction rehabilitation aid.”

So former-Congressman, what about that nice coin rolling in, hmm?   “I spent 22 years as a public servant, and most of my colleagues can attest, with all these demands on us as electeds (sic), you’re not making money in government.  I feel very grateful that I have the chance to continue to work on the issues I’ve always worked on and make a living for myself and family.”

Kennedy’s Forum lists donors including drug manufacturers, and health care companies.  He has lobb-, uh, advised the current Labor Secretary on enforcing “parity” laws to force Big Insurance to provide more mental health coverage.  Kennedy is also pushing for increased buprenorphine permission for more physicians.  Which is just doggone nice of him, considering how much oversight folks like you and I require, lest we not help the public in the way that makes the most sense to public minded servants like the Kennedys.

Read the whole article, and it is as self-interested and slime-covered as the most sugary bilge ever published by the ABMS.  The Kennedy Forum and the like will push the dupes and witless on Capitol Hill and in the White House to further order and constrain health care to “do good.”  Physicians are in the trenches of a war without end, amen, and for great profit.

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114910cookie-checkDifferent Car, Same Driver by Pat Conrad MD