Recently, Gov. Schwarzenegger announced his plan to provide universal coverage for health care and declared a war on physicians. We were shocked and appalled to learn that the Governator actually wants to penalize us, clinical providers, with a 2% gross revenue tax that will hit MDs with high operating costs especially hard. His action comes at a time when we are already experiencing unprecedented levels of loss of economic liberties and an ever increasing regulation of our profession.
Even more alarming is the acceptance with which this plan, and others like it, are supported by many of our fellow physicians, politicians and the media. Supporters of universal health care–i.e. socialized medicine–would have us believe that countries like Canada and Sweden provide superior care under their government controlled system. Furthermore, they would like to shame us for being ‘the only advanced country without universal health care.’ Yet, where does the world come for its health care? America. Where did Italy’s richest politician go to have his pacemaker installed? Ohio. When confronted with examples like this, supporters of universal coverage don’t deny the quality of care America provides but argue ours is a broken system that only provides quality care for the privileged. They would have us believe that socialized systems provide an optimal level of care, available ‘for free’ to the masses, yet they refuse to acknowledge the very real, very significant problems plaguing these systems. Should we ignore the stories of patients who had to flee Canada or Britain to receive their life saving medical treatment? How about nuclear medicine residents from Canada that have to go to the US to be trained in positron emission tomography? Are these isolated incidences? No. They are an inherent pathogen of every government run system.
To further advance our case, we have contacted Mark Steyn, a best selling author, who in his recent book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It has an interesting description of health care in Canada. Mr. Steyn has given us kind permission to reproduce the passage from his book, and we are very grateful to him for the opportunity to present our readers with a thought provoking prospect of the future that might soon come to these shores.
By Mark Steyn
In 2004, Debrah Cornthwaite gave birth to twin boys at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. That’s in Alberta. Mrs. Cornthwaite had begun the big day by going to her local maternity ward at Langley Memorial Hospital. That’s in British Columbia. They told her, yes, your contractions are coming every four minutes, but sorry, we don’t have any beds. And, after they’d checked with the bed-availability helpline “BC Bedline,” they brought her the further good news that there was not a hospital in the province in which she chould deliver her babies. There followed seven hours of red tape and paperwork. Then, late in the evening, she was driven to the airport and put on a chartered twin-prop to Edmonton. In the course of the flight, the contractions increased to every two and a half minutes–and most Lamaze classes don’t teach timing your breathing to turbulence over the Rockies. How many Americans would want to do that on delivery day? You pack your bag and head to your local hospital in Oakland, and they say: Not to worry, we’ve got a bed for you in Denver.
Euro-Canadian socialized health care is, in essence, subsidized by American taxpayers: since the end of World War Two, Washington has assumed the defense costs of its allies, thereby freeing up those countries to spend their tax revenues on lavish social programs. But, if America follows the Hutton plan and “joins the world,” it will reduce its defense expenditures to Euro-Canadian levels. So the next time a tsunami hits Sri-Lanka or Indonesia there will be no carrier groups to divert and save lives. So more people will die, waiting the weeks and weeks it took the sleepytime gals at the United Nations to arrive. Were America to “join the world,” it would have to reduce its funding of the UN and other wold bodies to European levels. And it might have to scale back its domestic agencies so that they’re no longer able to serve in effect as international ones. Which will be tough when some kid in some village on the other side of the world comes down with some weird illness no one’s seen before and they want to FedEx the test tube to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to figure out what’s going on. Indeed, even relatively advanced societies admired by the likes of Will Hutton take it as routine that the CDC is a kind of Health Ministry of last resort. When SARS leapt from China to infect Toronto’s hospitals in 2003, the principal contribution of the WHO (World Health Organization) was to issue a travel advisory warning visitors to steer clear of Ontario, leaving it to the CDC to provide advanced and practical analysis of the problem. Toronto’s mayor, Mel Lastman, had a hard time keeping track of all the aconyms, and in one press conference launched into a bitter attack on the damaging effects of the travel advisory issued by the CDC.
The doctor next to him tried to correct him: “Who,” she said.
“The CDC,” he repeated.
“Who,” she said.
“The CDC,” he repeated, wondering why she hadn’t heard his answer to the question the first time. This diseased version of the Abbott and Costello routine went on a while longer, before the doc realized she had to spell it out: W-H-O, the World Health Organization.
“Oh, yeah. Them, too,” said Hizzoner.
Yet under the who’s-on-first shtick lay an important truth: if an infection shows up in an Atlanta hospital, no American doctor looks for guidance from a Canadian government agency. But if it shows up in a Toronto hospital, the Ontario health system takes it for granted the best minds of the CDC in Atlanta will be staying late at the office trying to work out what’s going on.
The answer to that Canadian doctor’s vaudeville feed–“Who’s on first?”–is America. When something goes awry, in a Sri Lankan beach resort or a Toronto hospital, it’s the hyperpower who shows up. America doesn’t need to “join the world”: it already provides a lot of the world’s infrastructure.
© Mark Steyn, 2006
from America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It (Regnery Publishing, 2006)
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