COVID-19 fraud and scams — US Department of Justice cracks down

crime scene do not cross signage

For something completely different and entirely predictable, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced crackdowns on COVID-19 fraud and scam artists. You probably remember that various anti-vaccine scammers have been profiting from the COVID-19 pandemic, so this may not be a big surprise. But it’s fun to read.

I’m just going to post the various cases the DOJ has been pursuing against COVID-19 fraud, just for a little comedy relief. Actually, it’s not that funny, some of these people stole millions of dollars pushing their fraud.

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Medicaid and Medicare vaccine mandates legal review

brown wooden gavel on brown wooden table

This Medicaid and Medicare vaccine mandates legal review was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Over the past weeks, several courts around the country have stayed the Medicare and Medicaid vaccine mandates. As of today, December 20, 2021, the mandate is stayed in 25 states, and in force in 25.

Staying this mandate is more surprising than staying the OSHA mandate we have discussed before because while a vaccine mandate is new (but not other broad workplace regulations), and OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards require a high bar rarely met, there is a long history of extensive, broad funding conditions under Medicaid and Medicare.

I have decided to do this as an overview rather than a full analysis of each of the Medicare and Medicaid vaccine mandates decisions, simply because I want to get it out promptly. I will say that my view is that the strongest argument against the rule is that it was enacted without notice and comment, and that, itself, is not a very strong argument. 

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HPV cancer vaccine rates – Gardasil uptake remains low

HPV cancer vaccine

As I’ve written before, there are precious few ways to prevent cancer. But one of the best cancer prevention strategies is the HPV vaccine, which can prevent numerous cancers such as cervical, oral, penile and anal, all serious, and all dangerous. Maybe we should just rename Gardasil to “HPV cancer vaccine,” which could make everyone sit up and notice.

The HPV vaccination rate remains depressingly low in the USA. According to recent research, 39.7% of adolescent girls aged 13-17 received all three doses of the vaccine in 2014 up from 37.6% in 2013. HPV vaccination rates among teen boys are much lower than for girls, 21.6% in 2014 up from 13.4% in 2013.

There are probably a lot of reasons for the low HPV cancer vaccine uptake rate, so I thought I’d go through the most “popular” ones, debunking them one by one.

Hopefully, the reader can use this article as a checklist of the tropes and myths of the anti-Gardasil crowd with quick answers to them. Maybe you’ll convince one person to get their son or daughter vaccinated against HPV related cancers.

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Cancer Treatment Centers of America advertising

cancerYou’ve probably seen their commercials spread over all of the major TV networks. Beautiful scenes. Well-kept hospitals which often to appear to be near empty. And an anecdote or two or three from presumably real patients who describe their experience at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), a private, for-profit operator of cancer treatment hospitals and outpatient clinics which provide both conventional and alternative medical treatments. Included in their treatment plans are chiropractic and naturopathy, neither of which have any evidence whatsoever in providing any healthcare benefit to patients, let alone those suffering from cancer.

Reuters recently published an in-depth report on the validity of the claims that are made by CTCA in its advertising. Here are some of the ones specifically mentioned:

Colorado health officials mulling mandatory vaccinations

Colorado health officials mulling mandatory vaccinations | Vaccine News Daily.

Healthcare workers should be obligated to receive influenza vaccinations, mainly because they can be a nexus of spreading of the disease.  I personally don’t get why a healthcare worker should invent non-evidence based excuses for not getting the vaccine (I’ve heard them all), but it happens.

That the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons opposes this law is because it is a politically conservative group of physicians.  They’re opposed to mandatory vaccinations of any kind (even children), don’t support Medicare and Medicaid , even considering it evil and immoral, and are, of course, deeply opposed to Obama’s health care plan. I don’t care that there are conservative physicians, but I expect them to use evidence-based decision when dealing with medical and healthcare policy questions.  This group is incapable of evidence-based thinking.  Personally, I wouldn’t visit a physician who belonged to this group.

Nevertheless, if you observe Association of American Physicians and Surgeons opposing anything in healthcare, be very skeptical.  Extremely skeptical.