Dr. Andrew Weil, alternative medicine guru, will ask the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to cover employees who choose to visit his pseudo-scientific health center.
Weil is the founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, and has helped establish medical residency programs in some U.S. hospitals. He's been at the center of several controversies due to his promotion of pseudo-scientific medical ideas and drugs like Ecstasy. He's also the guy who supposedly once snitched on LSD-using legend Timothy Leary.
On Monday, Weil is scheduled to pitch the Supervisors on the "opportunity to enter into an agreement to establish a health center in Phoenix that offers world class integrative health care treatments," according to a news release.
Integrative medicine is a fancy term for health care that incorporates non-traditional, scientifically unproven (or even debunked) treatments like herbal remedies and acupuncture.
County spokeswoman Terri Mulholland tells us that Weil won't be asking the county for any money. She sent us an excerpt for the Board's agenda, which shows that the plan does indeed involve money -- though the costs are hidden.
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Weil wants the county to add his center to the list of approved providers for the county's employee health-benefits plan. That way, county employees and their dependents could more easily take advantage of the center's treatments. The county would benefit by access to health data (minus the patient identifiers) for a three-year study of integrative medicine.
The best part about this deal for Weil and his center, as far as we can tell, is that he risks nothing. The county benefits plan, meanwhile, is betting that the integrative medicine treatments are worth the money and will have to pay either way.
UPDATE: The county approves Weil's plan.