Claim: The Canadians have government-run health care and it’s a model of how well a health care system can work. It’s a system more industrialized countries, such as the U.S., should emulate.
Fact: “Canada’s health care system is coming apart at the seams, torn between a desire to uphold a monumental principle and the staggering challenge of delivering on that promise. … On the ground, there is too often a glaring lack of execution: long waits, bed shortages, unequal access to medication. Those failures are compounded by the fact that the ever-rising medicare bill is squeezing out education and other social priorities.”
Claim: Canadians love their health care system because of its great reputation.
Fact: If the Canadian system is so good, why do its lawmakers come to the U.S. for treatment? There is story after story of Canadian officials coming to America for their treatment because it takes too long to get to see a specialist in Canada. Perhaps the most recent high profile “Profile In Courage” is Danny Williams, a provincial premier (i.e., governor), who went to Florida last February for heart surgery (see The Washington Post’s The Checkup blog).
Claim: There may be some specialties American doctors do well, but the Canadian system does other things better, especially basic procedures.
Fact: Like childbirth? According to KOMO-TV in Seattle, Canadian women from British Columbia are flocking to the Emerald City to give birth! In one case, there were no beds available in Chilliwack, B.C., nor in cosmopolitan Vancouver, and the woman had to be rushed to Seattle. In another case, there were no hospitals in all of Western Canada with available neo-natal facilities, and the baby also was taken to Seattle.
Claim: Without a system like Canada’s, people who have catastrophic injuries could never afford treatment and would die.
Fact: In a system like Canada’s, there may be no place to go for catastrophic injuries! According to Canada’s own Globe and Mail, “More than 150 critically ill Canadians – many with life-threatening cerebral hemorrhages – have been rushed to the United States (between spring of 2006 and late 2008) because they could not obtain intensive-care beds here.”
Claim: Accusations about rationing or shortages in government-run or regulated systems are scare tactics.
Fact: See above. Or read this, again from the Globe and Mail: “There have been very serious health-care problems that have arisen in neurosurgical patients because of the lack of ability to attain timely transport to expert neurosurgical centres in Ontario,” said R. Loch Macdonald, chief of the division of neurosurgery at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Those problems, he said, include “brain injury or brain damage that could have been prevented by earlier treatment.”
Claim: American leaders such as John Kerry and Hillary Clinton have cited the Canadian system as one of the best in the world.
Fact: Even if true, why settle for one of the best when we have the best. But don’t believe me. Believe Canada’s own single-payer-supporting media. More from the Globe and Mail: “Despite the urgency of these cases, patients encounter barriers to accessing care at every turn. The problems include limited access to teleradiology; limited operating-room time; too few intensive-care beds; a short supply of neurosurgically trained intensive-care nurses to staff them, and too few neurosurgeons. In some cases, neurosurgeons are available to operate, but with intensive-care beds full, there simply is nowhere to put them afterward.”
Claim: The government is needed to ensure everyone gets quality health care because insurance companies and doctors only care about their bottom line.
Fact: Yes, just like Stephen Duckett, the CEO of Alberta Health Services, who was fired earlier this month for refusing to take reporters’ questions on why the AHS had serious problems, such as long wait lines. Instead, for two minutes, he repeated to reporters, “I want to eat my cookie!” See the video at TheBlaze.com. Duckett was fired the next day.
Claim: No, really, Canadians love their health care system!
Fact: According to TheBlaze.com: Duckett’s firing “is welcome news in a country growing increasingly frustrated with its health care system. …” It also cited his devotion to “publicly funded health care,” as his downfall. The fact is, publicly funded health care breeds arrogant bureaucrats who, at best, make arbitrary decisions as to what treatments patients get, but more often than not, at worst, make cold decisions based on costs and rationing, rather than humaneness. It’s publicly funded health care that puts government between patient and doctor.
Claim: The government is needed to keep prices under control and save taxpayer dollars. That’s why we should continue to move toward the Canadian system.
Fact: Right. That’s why Reuters reported this earlier this year: “Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada’s provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.” Part of the solution? Charging patients for each medical visit (previously “free”) and more taxes.
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