Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Why isn't there a revolution...in Canada, eh?

Why isn't there a revolution...in Canada, eh?

 

There ought to be a revolution.

Not here, silly. I'm talking about our friendly neighbors to the north in Canada and our former colonizers in Great Britain. I mean, living under the yoke of socialized medicine all these years...why haven't the Brits and the Canadians started guillotining their politicians and their doctors in the nearest public square? Could it be because the vast, and I mean vast, majority of folks in those countries are happy with a kind of health care that dare not speak its name here in the United States?

The other day last week, the Drudge Report linked to a headline that was certainly Drudge-worthy: "Canadians visit U.S. to get healthcare." It's exactly the kind of A-ha! story that conservatives like Matt Drudge are on the prowl for these days, proof that any kind of government involvement in healthcare can be lethal (except for Medicare...don't dare touch that!). Except like a lot of links on the Drudge Report, if you take the time to read the actual story, it doesn't say what Matt Drudge or his fellow travellers think that it says. Yes, some  Canadians come to America -- a neighboring country with nearly 10X as many people and thus a lot more doctors -- for some specialized tests not so easily available there; but in many cases that's an efficiency -- i.e., Canada not spending lots of money on highly specialized equipment that would be underutilized there -- and efficiency is critical to making sure that all get healthcare.

In the part of the story that I doubt Drudge or radio talk hosts read that far in, it notes: 

But Dr. Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton University health economist who has studied the U.S. and Canadian health systems, said arrangements with cities like Detroit "are a terrific way to manage capacity" given Canada's smaller health care budget.

"This is efficient," he said. "At least in Canada, you don't worry about going broke to pay for health care. You do here."

Really. Would it be a horrible indictment of Pennsylvania if someone went to New York, the nation's largest city just 100 miles away (farther than Detroit is from a chunk of Ontario), to get a certain test not as readily available in Philadelphia? In the reality-based world, people in Canada, Europe, or other industrialized nations that provide close-to-universal healthcare aren't complaining about their own systems -- but express bafflement that a prosperous place like America can't do the same.

Recently, some American conservatives appealed to their right-wing brethren across the pond in an effort to get them to relay the horrors of socialized medicine in Britain. The response?

No can do

Dr. Rawlins is part of a broad British backlash against American critics that already has landed David Cameron, the leader of the conservative Tories, in trouble. Reports that Daniel Hannan, a Tory member of the European Parliament, criticized the N.H.S. on TV programs in the United States created an uproar, forcing Mr. Cameron to distance himself from Mr. Hannan. Labor ministers gleefully declared Mr. Hannan to be unpatriotic. On Thursday, Mr. Cameron gave a lengthy speech declaring “the conservative party’s commitment to the N.H.S.”

“Conservatives rely on the N.H.S., work in the N.H.S., volunteer to help the N.H.S.,” Mr. Cameron said. “This party wants to improve the N.H.S. for everyone.”

The N.H.S. is very popular in Britain, and if Mr. Cameron ever suggested that he wanted to fundamentally change the system he would “become politically unelectable,” Dr. Rawlins said.

Rawlins goes on to add that Britons and other Europeans are "shocked" that the United States isn't able to provide healthcare to all its citizens. I guess that would be shocking...if you didn't live here, where a stunned majority watches as even a greatly watered-down package that's no where close to the kind of single-payer systems that these nations have still can't get enough traction. Meanwhile, the biggest critics of healthcare in Canada and in Great Britain seem to be...Americans. If a government role in healthcare were so awful, wouldn't their own citizens be the ones manning the barricades? 

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Will Bunch
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