The Opposite of Socialized Medicine - 2020-02-25
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons might sound like another boring doctors' group politely debating telehealth legislation. But AAPS is a small yet vociferous interest group. Like Zelig with a stethoscope, it has popped up in nearly every major health-care debate for decades, including the Affordable Care Act and opioids, and it wields a surprising amount of influence. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was outed as a member in 2010. (A Paul spokesperson told me that while the senator is no longer a member, he is supportive of AAPS's fight against Obamacare.) When Representative Tom Price of Georgia was nominated to lead President Donald Trump's Department of Health and Human Services, several newspapers pointed out that he, too, was a member. (At the time, an HHS spokesperson said that not all doctors in a group believe the same thing.)
Though AAPS often takes positions that are associated with conservative groups, it sometimes goes even further, pushing fringe views that most mainstream conservatives do not endorse, such as the belief that mandatory vaccination is "equivalent to human experimentation" and that Medicare is "evil." Over the years, the group seems to have coalesced around an ethos of radical self-determination and a belief that mainstream science isn't always trustworthy. It's the most curious of medical organizations: a doctors' interest group that seems more invested in the interests of doctors, rather than public health.
At a time when doctors are facing scorching levels of burnout, health-care costs are soaring, and seemingly everyone is frustrated with the status quo, AAPS seems to have come up with an unusual answer: to turn back the clock. AAPS sees its vision as forward-looking and modern, but the group's rhetoric recalls an era when a doctor would treat you for just a few bucks. No insurance deductible would need to be met first, and no intimidating vaccine schedule had been mandated from above.