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The best health care for the most powerful people in the world

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There's a difference between the statements "America has the best health-care system in the world" and "With enough money, you can purchase the best health care in the world in America." But that difference gets run over in political conversations. Sen. John Barrasso, for instance, just mentioned that a Canadian premier recently got heart surgery in Miami. Best health care in the world, baby!

America has about 50 million uninsured people within its borders. Canada has exactly 13 premiers. People should ask themselves a very simple question: Do they think they are likelier to lose their job and fall into the health-care situation of the uninsured or become an influential politician and enjoy the health-care options available to the most powerful people in the world?

If you're a United States senator, America may have the best health-care in the world. But if you're an ordinary person with the same vulnerability to bad luck that we all have, you're better off being in Canada, or France, or Japan, or somewhere that doesn't take your insurance away when Wall Street causes the economy to crash.

Update: Sorry, I'd written prime minister when I meant premier. Text corrected.

Photo credit: By Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  |  February 25, 2010; 4:16 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

Obviously, if we had Canada's healthcare here today, no one could get the superior care that is currently available.

Posted by: msoja | February 25, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Also, Klein floats one of his favorite canards, that being uninsured is not having health care. It's a lie, but, of course, absolutely necessary to his bankrupt agenda.

Posted by: msoja | February 25, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

This is about the worst possible argument to make in the American system. Far from the Rawlsian veil of ignorance, in this country the rugged individualistic perspective leads many Americans to think that getting the best when you're rich is great, because anyone can be rich. It's part and parcel with the American Dream.

Posted by: Daniel2344 | February 25, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was just the Premier of Newfoundland? That's a lot different. I wouldn't calibrate national policy around the actions of a single Newfie.

Posted by: ideallydc | February 25, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - Are you trying to imply that Canada doesn't have over 44,000 deaths every year caused by no health insurance? Ha! As if! Next thing you'll be telling us is that Canada doesn't have thousands and thousands of personal bankruptcys every year caused by a lack of health insurance.

And that would obviously not be true!

Besides, only good people deserve to live longer. And by good I mean rich. If you think about it, what do poor people add to an economy? Nothing! Only rich people matter!

PS - Sorry, I'm suffering from DSB (deadly sarcasm buildup.) If I don't vent snark I'm likely to vapor lock and be sent to the hospital. One more time and my DSB could be considered a pre-existing condition.

Posted by: nisleib | February 25, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Ezra:

Well Said. Just because you live in this country doesn't mean you can afford the best that health care has to offer in this country. It what you can afford.

Posted by: georgeg1011 | February 25, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

The Problem:
--President Obama is focused on coming up with some sort of compromise
--Everyone else (minus Ron Wyden), Democrats and Republicans, used the summit as a chance as a mouthpiece for their talking points.

Posted by: NickM2 | February 25, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I live in Florida, yet I don't have access to heart specialists here because I don't have insurance and can't afford it.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Lomillialor - Well then you either need to be 1) Rich or 2) Over 65.

Otherwise, just don't get sick.

Posted by: nisleib | February 25, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

@msoja, if we had canada's system and spent what we spend now (about double what canada spends), everybody would be covered in the US and there would be plenty of money left over for developing new treatments. Medical research mostly takes place in teaching hospitals attached to medical schools that are subsidized by the taxpayers (tax exemptions for educational institutions, state funded universities, NIH grants, etc.).

Posted by: srw3 | February 25, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

"Do they think they are likelier to lose their job and fall into the health-care situation of the uninsured? Or are they likelier to become an influential politician and enjoy the health-care options available to the most powerful people in the world?"

There are real problems with the health care market in this country, but this post is flat wrong.

I'm a middle class guy and I already "enjoy the health-care options available to the most powerful people in the world." I have wonderful doctors, wonderful hospitals, and little or no waiting times.

You see, this is where you run off the rails sometimes. The health care received by the middle class in this country is fabulous. You should admit that, and not claim that only the "influential" receive such care.

Posted by: ostap666 | February 25, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

msoja - So if someone needs chemotherapy and doesn't have insurance they can get it at the emergency room?

Just wondering.

Posted by: nisleib | February 25, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

My sister in law has cancer. When she telephoned the physician to get an appt., the receptionist first asked if she had health insurance. No health insurance, no entry into treatment. Turns out her insurance was junk insurance and will leave her broke, but at least she got a foot in the door. No health insurance, no treatment. Emergency rooms offer only emergency treatment, not ongoing treatment for life threatening diseases.

Posted by: cmpnwtr | February 25, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

It was actually the premier of Newfoundland, which is kind of like Canada's weird kid brother.
Andre Picard had a good column about it in the Globe and Mail today.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/williamss-heart-surgery-choice-was-based-on-ignorance/article1480937/

Posted by: StephenBank | February 25, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The premier of Newfoundland has a net worth somewhere north of $100M. The other example of a Canadian coming to America for health care given by Sen. Barrasso was Belinda Stronarch, who also has a net wort well north of $100M. These are not ordinary people and to think that these examples prove the superiority of American health care system as it relates to the majority of Americans (or Canadians) is absolutely ridiculous.

Ferrari builds some of the best cars in the world, and it would be great if everyone was able to afford to own one, but they can't. Similarily, America offers some of the best medical care money can buy, which is great if you can afford it, but it doesn't do any good for the millions of Americans who can't access it.

Posted by: masmith78 | February 25, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Health Care reform is about access. It's also about the cost of health care. Anyone with enough money can get whatever healthcare (or other stuff) they want where ever they want it. But in Canada, as well as in every other developed country health care costs society less.

By spending so much more of our GDP on health care and not getting better health outcomes the US is crowding out investment is other, possibly more productive, areas. And those other areas would have to be more productive if the US isn't getting better health for the extra money. And that means the US economy could be bigger than it is.

Posted by: ideallydc | February 25, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Complete crockage, Ezra.

The vast majority of us are likely to remain middle-class Americans with access care which, in Newfoundland, is available only to premiers.

Barrasso's point is that most Americans understand that making more care available to everyone will require lower quality care for those who (gasp!) are paying for it.

But what's more interesting than any other talking point I heard today is Democrats' refusal to admit that these cuts in quality will occur. That's just a bunch of PC BS.

Posted by: cpurick | February 25, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

What a waste today's Summitt was!! Just more partisan BS! Yes, there are horror stories out there; and while the goal to cover everyone is noble, we cannot afford to do so at this time. Obama & Congress should concentrate on jobs so Americans will have money to purchase healthcare and employers will prosper and be able to provide benefits! The cart is before the horse!

visit: http://eclecticramblings.wordpress.com

Posted by: my4653 | February 25, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

ostap666, that may be true, but not all middle-class folk remain there. My best friend - a former HR manager at a global firm - just saw her COBRA run out. Unlike many downsized Americans, she's been able to find work: as a retail clerk making just over minimum wage. She tried to get private insurance but was denied. You see, 11 years ago, began her battle with breast cancer. Though she's been blessedly cancer-free for nearly 10 years, she was told that she cannot be insured until she's 15 years cancer-free. Should her cancer return in the next 5 years, what do you suggest she do? We have the best health care in the world, but she will not have access to it, all because she's a hard-working, low-wage breast cancer survivor.

Posted by: GordonsGirl | February 25, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I thought Patty Murray might make that point in her anecdote about the woman who got sick and then lost her job and health care because of that, and then died for lack of access to care. The "best care in the world" doesn't help if you can't afford to see a doctor. I also think a great many people outside Congress understand the insecurity here--have one slip up and you can lose everything.

I have a friend who broke her back cycling in Spain and received full care at no cost until she could return home. That's better than elite care that only a small handful can access.

When the GOPers say "we can't afford to cover everyone" I want to scream that we could have if they hadn't pissed all that money away on a worthless war in Iraq against people who had no involvement in terrorism against the US until we invaded their country. We still could if the banksters and the other very, very wealthy weren't so selfish as to think they are entitled to every dime they can get their hands on fairly or not.

Posted by: Mimikatz | February 25, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Andre Picard makes all the relevant points: Danny Williams asked a friend -- "he depended on the old boys’ network" -- who works within the US system, and got a recommendation that was... within the US system. In the meantime, surgeons in Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere in Canada perform the same procedure for their patients.

I suppose you can give Danny WIlliams backhanded thanks for paying $50,000 out of his own pocket, as it means another Canadian gets that spot in surgery through provincial Medicare. It still makes ordinary Americans look like exploited suckers.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | February 25, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Prisons provide health care to the inmates when they are sick.

So theoretically we all have access to health care in this country -- all we need to do is commit crimes and get ourselves sent to prison.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 25, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Patrick M - You kid, but that is exactly what an uncle of mine did. He got busted for weed and was sent to jail. If he hadn't, he would have died almost a decade before he did.

While in jail he had several heart operations that would have cost him, well, I have no idea how much, but probably a lot.

Posted by: nisleib | February 25, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

"very, very wealthy weren't so selfish as to think they are entitled to every dime they can get their hands on fairly or not."

Whose selfish. if it's not yours, you have no claim to it.

but more practically, do you really believe that the wealthy are going to pay more in taxes to fund health care? Eventually, all these plans are going to have to tax the middle class, because we're the only suckers who pay. The middle class doesn't have the lawyers and accountants to find the loopholes -- and there will be loopholes -- that the wealthy will use.

This whole exercize is an effort to do the imposible -- make life fair. it hasn't been before and it won't be in the future.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

nisleib,

Yeah, it is just crazy that stuff like that happens.

I liked the fact that Dick Durbin pointed out during the summmit that we give free lawyers to accused criminals, but nobody has a right to a doctor.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 25, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"if it's not yours, you have no claim to it."

Now there's an honest, plain-speking Republican.

Access to affordable health care? That's not yours and you have no claim to it.

That water in the fire department's hoses? That's not yours and you have no claim to it.

Those bandages and food rations that FEMA brings after a natural disaster? That's not yours and you have no claim to it.

It would make a great bumper sticker for the Republicans.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 25, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I only caught the last couple hours, but the thing that struck me was how civil the discussion was. It's a long shot in terms of moving votes inside Congress, but I still have the sense that it was still a constructive debate.

Posted by: JPRS | February 25, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

NoVaHockey, No, I don't think they are entitled to every dime they can screw other people out of fairly or unfairly and that is what I said. Much if not most of their money comes from using superior power to squeeze money out of people who either don't understnad or feel they have no real choices. Much also comes from using taxpayer money for speculation and duping people on their derivative deals.

I do think society has a just claim on a fair paymnent of taxes by those who benefit most from the system, and that isn't the poor. Look at Blackwater and the other unscrupulous military contractors. Look at big business who arrange the rules so that entry is difficult form small business. Look at the insurers who have a whole political party to protect their profits.

Posted by: Mimikatz | February 25, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

And this is the catch 22 of passing health care reform: politicians from red states risk the political suicide of voting for reform for the American people, which means (assuming they're not reelected) they lose that wonderful health coverage the gov't provides! They know as well as anyone how unaffordable it will be once they're no longer federally insured. What they fail to see is that by voting for reform, they are securing affordable health care for themselves and their children in the future...as well as everyone else (but when did those people matter?). Repubs are just too short sighted to run a functional country.

Posted by: elt28 | February 25, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I missed some of the exchange between Barrasso and the Prez, but it sounded to me like the Prez made the obvious point on most people's minds (and he didn't even roll his eyes).

Posted by: onewing1 | February 25, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

And skewing the tax code for their benefit, so that their effective rates are lower than middle and low-income people's rates. That is the greatest source of the increase in income inequality in the last 8 years.

Posted by: Mimikatz | February 25, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

"Eventually, all these plans are going to have to tax the middle class, because we're the only suckers who pay."
--------
Maybe but at least my tax dollars can go towards something that is important to me and my life instead of unnecessary wars, bank bailouts and big business.

I've had times in my life between jobs where I was uninsured or the insurance I had didn't cover anything. And those were some pretty bad times. Doctors who wouldn't see me. A trip to the ER where I waited for three hours to be seen by a doctor for 15 minutes and that cost me over $2K. It's past time that we got health care reform.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | February 25, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

"Access to affordable health care? That's not yours and you have no claim to it."

That's not quite a fair description of my comment, but that's fine. More disturbing is the fact that you do feel entitled to something that doesn't belong to you -- someone else money. Anything else that doesn't belong to you that you'd like to appropriate for your own purposes?

The rest of your comment is useful. You equate health care to other public goods, while I think a lot of people don't. I don't consider health care a right, and I'm assuming you do.

We as a society have decided that everyone benefits from a publicly funded fire dept. Clearly, we haven't decided to apply the same principle to health care.

As an aside, the knee-jerk analogize with the fire dept. are pretty worn. Oh, you oppose "big government," you must not like the fire dept., police or the sidewalks either. It's a poor talking point.


Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

Your entire argument is unnecessary. The fact of the matter is that the bill in question won't significantly reduce the costs of services. It will be a revenue bonanza for health care providers, and as several economists have pointed out, it will create jobs and significantly expand the health care industry. There is absolutely no way it will reduce the quality of care. It may raise the cost of insurance for a variety of reasons, but it will fatten the pockets of providers.

The criticism you're responding to is just a veiled straw man. Obama is not proposing single-payer. Providers will not see cuts in reimbursements.

Now, the Republicans are right to point out that this bill won't adequately cut costs, but they can't credibly make that argument while asserting that the quality of the services will be cut too. This is patently illogical.

The GOP wants to argue against both this proposal and single-payer at the same time. It is trying to have its cake and eat it too.

So why take the bait?

Posted by: eleander | February 25, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

@Klein - Do they think they are likelier to lose their job and fall into the health-care situation of the uninsured?

Aside from the fact that this is a horribly written sentence not becoming a WaPo writer (as is the one that follows), it is the wrong question to ask. The major wrinkle that you try to gloss over with these two questions is the difference between access and quality. The fact that Canadians who are wealthy enough to essentially opt out of the Canadian healthcare system choose the US for their important medical needs reinforces the notion that healthcare is better in the US than in Canada. They come here because they get better care and because they have access to it (via their personal wealth). The question you should be asking is what we can do to increase access to healthcare without screwing up the quality? The answer is NOT to imitate Canada because the people who put their money where their health is know where to find quality and it ain't there.

Posted by: amaranthpa | February 25, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

@ostap666 Have you checked how much premiums have gone up in the last 5 years? Probably not, if you have employee based health care. Check some old pay stubs if you still have them- you might be surprised. My health care is also fabulous, and I don't work for the Fed govt as an elected official, nor do I make my living off of dividends and capital gains. But my premiums have doubled in less than 10 years. Has my health care gotten twice as good? Or, do I consume twice as much? No and no.

Posted by: Lonepine | February 25, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

eveery time I hear of the huge amounts people pay for premiums monthly I think " wow what if you were paying that into Medicare ," it would be a win-win for everyone , Medicare strengthened and solvent, and good coverage for all Americans......too simple a plan I guess

Posted by: sligowoman | February 25, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

amaranthpa,

Most wealthy Canadians don't opt out of the Canadian system. An anecdote is only one data point.

Posted by: JPRS | February 25, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

@Lonepine - Has my health care gotten twice as good? Or, do I consume twice as much? No and no.

Aside from the fact that you can't look at one person specifically when discussing insurance premiums, how are you so sure that your health care is not twice as good? One of the problems with that statement is that your health care may have improved greatly, you just have not had the occasion to access the improvements it in the last 10 years (fortunately!). The treatments for virtually all conditions and illnesses have improved markedly over the last 10 years but unless you get it, you don't realize those improvements. Be thankful for that.

Posted by: amaranthpa | February 25, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

"We as a society have decided that everyone benefits from a publicly funded fire dept. Clearly, we haven't decided to apply the same principle to health care.

As an aside, the knee-jerk analogize [sic]with the fire dept. are pretty worn. Oh, you oppose "big government," you must not like the fire dept., police or the sidewalks either. It's a poor talking point."

It is a perfectly valid talking point when your argument against creating access to affordable health care is "if it's not yours, you have no claim to it."

I agree with you that "we as a society" have made the decision that together we should invest in many things from which we may derive unequal benefits, but which improve all of our individual security, like police, fire, and agencies that respond to natural disasters.

And "we as a society" appear to be on the verge of a set of modest investments and reforms in our health care system. It is simply a long overdue, and relatively minor, forward step in social progress.

"Clearly, we haven't decided to apply the same principle to health care."

I beg to differ. In 2008, the Democrats ran on a platform that included HCR, and they took the Presidency and substantial majorities in both house of Congress. If the Democrats pass the reform package, they are simply fulfilling the promises that got them elected.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 25, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

@Lonepine - Has my health care gotten twice as good? Or, do I consume twice as much? No and no.

Aside from the fact that you can't look at one person specifically when discussing insurance premiums, how are you so sure that your health care is not twice as good? One of the problems with that statement is that your health care may have improved greatly, you just have not had the occasion to access the improvements it in the last 10 years (fortunately!). The treatments for virtually all conditions and illnesses have improved markedly over the last 10 years but unless you get it, you don't realize those improvements. Be thankful for that.

Posted by: amaranthpa

///////////////////////////////

Good point. The median life expectancy in the U.S. these days is also about 150 years old. We definitely get twice the value for our 2-fold plus difference in expenditures.

Posted by: JPRS | February 25, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"Most wealthy Canadians don't opt out of the Canadian system. An anecdote is only one data point."

Yes. And does anyone seriously believe that American millionaires don't jet off for treatment in clinics in other countries when there is a particular specialist somewhere else who is considered the best?

The "Canadian Premier" argument used by Barasso was so absurd on its face that he's lucky the rest of the room did not burst out laughing.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 25, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,
Everything you type does not necessarily belong in a major newspaper. Be a little more selective.

Posted by: hz9604 | February 25, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Who wins if USA becomes a banana republic when straddled with unmanagable growing structural deficits?

Chavez in Venezuela, already expanding his influence over Latin America?

Khomeni in Iran, already expanding his influence over the Middle East?

Putin in USSR, tightening his grip as we speak?

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 25, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Patrick -- this is fun. I have to run, but would add that the 2009 and 2010 elections say otherwise. you get to have the last word.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

THE KID SCREWS UP, PT. 23,947

" .. But if you're an ordinary person with the same vulnerability to bad luck that we all have, you're better off being in Canada .."

Gee, if that's true -- how did the kid of these ILLEGALS get $5,000,000.00+ in FREE MEDICAL CARE?

http://bit.ly/cb8FYc

" .. In a two-hour procedure Thursday, hospital surgeons inserted a catheter into Hazelle Roa's body, carrying a tiny balloon that opened her artery for a diminutive camera to explore whether she will need heart surgeries in the future.

" .. Hazelle's little-known genetic abnormality left her with a thyroid deficiency and a narrow artery into her heart, which has kept her in the hospital most of her life .."

Kid, you and Obama need to try thinking. It won't hurt.

Posted by: russpoter | February 25, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

re. the argument about the Fire Dept. analogy ... the point is we all pay taxes in some form or other and most people would rather the money be spent on health and human services rather than wars or missile systems , but the only power we actually have is our vote, which brings us back to the ,"elections have consequences " reality.
One point was made again and again today in the Summit, the bigger the pool the cheaper it is to insure ...what better and bigger pool than the 300 million Americans who will ,100% guaruanteed , interact with a Health Care system at some point in their lives? Americans should demand single payer... private insurance can still exist as a supplement. The for- profit systems will bankrupt this country.

Posted by: sligowoman | February 25, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

"Patrick -- this is fun. I have to run, but would add that the 2009 and 2010 elections say otherwise. you get to have the last word."

Ok.

I was previously unaware that the voters in Massachusetts, or in any other state or locality, enjoy veto power over the majorities in both houses of Congress and the President of the United States. My copy of the Constitution must be missing a page, because I can't find that special Massachusetts rule.

If your party wins back majorities in the Fall, then you can certainly pass (or repeal) any legislation you wish. Until then, I continue to look to the representatives who are there now to fulfill their campaign promises to the voters that sent them to Washington.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 25, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Obama was condescending and rude to the Repubs today...and, basically, threw down the gauntlet on reconciliation. He put down the suggestion made to him and spent time rebutting the suggestions made to him. His mind is made up...overhaul or bust.

visit: http://eclecticramblings.wordpress.com

Posted by: my4653 | February 25, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Quite right. And I can't think of any other journalists at the Post who have the guts to say it.

Posted by: lydgate | February 25, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Klein is exactly right - the question is not so much quality as access.

@ostap666
when you as a "middle class" person lose your job and can't afford COBRA (or your COBRA runs out after 18 months) or you get an illness that prevents you from working so you lose your health insurance, I don't think you will be bragging about how great your health care is then...because you won't be able to afford to have it!

Posted by: AnonymousBE1 | February 25, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

"Obama was condescending and rude to the Repubs today...and, basically, threw down the gauntlet on reconciliation. He put down the suggestion made to him and spent time rebutting the suggestions made to him. His mind is made up...overhaul or bust."


obama was rude???
obama was condescending???

obama was saintly.
he has shown grace, patience, goodwill and restraint beyond the limits of imagination.
not a hint of sarcasm or unkindness.
he has been a role model for us all.
unlike those who have attended his state of the union address and blurted out that he was a liar...circulated cruel jokes and songs about him and walked back and forth in front of him, rolling eyes when he was in the presidential debates.
whenever he has offended someone, he has had the unique virtue in washington, of offering an apology.
say what you will in political agreement or disagreement, but his conduct towards others is impeccable, and absolutely presidential.
we are so fortunate to have a president who actually acts presidential and is such a fine, courteous person.

Posted by: jkaren | February 25, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I'll tell you one group who watched the summit on TV- seniors. Yup, the same seniors who vote disproportionately more in midterms. Now, who knows how much of it they saw because CNN talked over a lot of it and MSNBC cut away for the Olympics. But the largest demographic that watched this was probably seniors. They have both the time and the interest to do so. If that was something the WH was thinking when they scheduled this, it may have been pretty shrwed of them, depending on whether or not seniors were moved by Obama taking down the GOP talking points on process.

This was a good exercise IF the WH already feels good about the votes in the House. If not, then it was political malpractice because the arm twisting in the House is wayyyy more important than this event. But, if they have the votes, then the summit will make passage of comprehensive health insurance reform all the more huge politically.

Posted by: phillycomment | February 25, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

EZ- Man, I thought you were onto something, what was this column about Canada?

Geez, look you couldve brought up the subject that Congressman Darrell Issa, R CA, put out a proposal way back in late summer offering up saving money and time by bringing ALL AMERICANS under a Healthcare Plan we all pay for already, The Congressional Health Plan which is paid by our tax dollars and both House and Senate members enjoy, but the Elite Democrats, esp...Reid and Pelosi scoffed at the idea, esp...Pelosi, cause she dont want Tawana in SE, DC and Beth in the mountains of West Virginia to use the same OBGYN that she has....Mmmmmm, yeah...a one page proposal could have put us under the same plan, at a savings that would be incredible....SO tell me EZ if it is such an Emergency and all these consequences are involved WHY NOT??

Posted by: Fred23 | February 25, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Since you've done a lot of research on health care and insurance, perhaps you can answer his question. Why do we have all these separate bureaucracies for health care? There's Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans health, federal employees health, and now discussion of yet another bureaucracy. Why not roll them all into one? Wouldn't that make more sense economically?

Posted by: valkayec | February 25, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

"Since you've done a lot of research on health care and insurance, perhaps you can answer his question. Why do we have all these separate bureaucracies for health care? There's Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans health, federal employees health, and now discussion of yet another bureaucracy. Why not roll them all into one? Wouldn't that make more sense economically?"

You are proposing single payer health care for every American citizen.

While it would "make more sense economically" in many ways, it would also require putting the private health insurance companies out of business (which they would not like, and would fight tooth and nail), and the conservatives would yell "socialism" EVEN MORE LOUDLY than they do now.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 25, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Lauren Ashley would allow gays to buy health insurance?

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Everyone in this country is one insurance premium away from being uninsured.

A lot of people pretend this issue doesn't touch them because they make good money or they have a nice job that gives them coverage, but it can most certainly touch them within a few months of losing that job and that nice pay check. This bill will benefit everyone over time.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | February 26, 2010 6:22 AM | Report abuse

No one in Canada goes bankrupt because of health care. Can we say the same here. For those who can afford it we have the best; for those who cannot?? We are 37th on an international list when it comes to health care; so being smug is not on. Our pols in Washington rush off to Walter Reed and have in house services in both houses. Can these people feel our pain?

Posted by: bitterpill8 | February 26, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Patrick_M:
"And does anyone seriously believe that American millionaires don't jet off for treatment in clinics in other countries when there is a particular specialist somewhere else who is considered the best?"

In fact, I suspect it is rare that the best medicine is found in other countries. I'm sure there are many more foreign millionaires coming here for treatment than there are Americans leaving here to get it elsewhere because the care is superior.

The problem is your precious government.

There are plenty of ordinary (rather than rich) people leaving here to get care where it's *cheaper*, and I'm sure that care is delivered below the legal standard of care here. Make such a low standard of care legal here, and I doubt even those patients would leave.

And while I'm sure that rich Americans could fly to other countries for superior care, I suspect it happens far more often that wealthy "medical tourists" fly to countries where a particular procedure or treatment is available that simply hasn't been approved in the US. Again, that's really a problem of government.

Posted by: cpurick | February 26, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

DUH

"No one in Canada goes bankrupt because of health care."

They just DIE from cancer and cardio, more easily.

Ninny.

Posted by: russpoter | February 26, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

The U.S. has the best health care infrastructure, i.e. hospitals, doctors, clinics, research facilities, the CDC, etc., in the world. What we don't have is the best health care system in the world. In fact, it's not even close. To those who disparage the Canadian system, try it some time. I lived in Canada for several years. I found the health care and the system quite reasonable. When I moved from B.C. to Ottawa, there was complete portability. I was never denied access to care and the care I received was equivalent to anything I have received in the U.S. It is easy to disparage something about which you know nothing about other than what opponents of health care insurance reform want you to think.

Posted by: tsesee | February 26, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

The exquisite irony is that, if you follow information from the Dartmouth Atlas, Miami and a lot of Florida is one of those zones where Medicare (for one) pays a lot more for health care, but for no better outcomes. In fact, sometimes worse.

Hope the premier is doing well.

Posted by: jshafham | February 26, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

How many people in Canada die waiting to get health care?

http://www.usnews.com/blogs/peter-roff/2009/07/28/statistics-show-canada-healthcare-is-inferior-to-american-system.html

Posted by: kingstu01 | February 26, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

It gets even better; turns out Premier Danny "Millions" of Newfoundland could have had the exact same procedure in Toronto, or Montreal or any one of half a dozen other Canadian centres. And his public health insurance would have paid for it, just like it would for any non-millionaire Canadian...

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/02/23/williams-surgery023.html

Posted by: AHermit | February 26, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

after watching the h.c. summit, I finally got the republican idea of h.c. It's a priviledge& not a right! In the rest of the world, it's a right. The rightwing has this idea, that if your rich, the best h.c. in the world is available. If that platform is continued, America will indeed be standing alone. Pretty sad, the terrorists from 911, have better h.c. than a large percentage of U.S. tax payers!!

Posted by: hitch78 | February 26, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"When the GOPers say "we can't afford to cover everyone" I want to scream..."

Me too. America will be able to afford to cover everyone once we have the volume buying power of a single payer system and eliminate the useless middleman, insurance.

What the Amercians that keep America going cannot afford is the GOP or the Republicans in Democrat clothing.

Posted by: ThePoliticalStraycom | February 26, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein is right: we have a great health care system for the super rich, but we have a lousy system for the average people, and especially for small businesses and individual people. And that is exactly how the republicans and their health insurance industry allies want to keep it. The shame is that many of the so called blue dog democrats, who would be considered right wing conservatives in many of the developed countries, also want to keep it this way, as they are paid to do that by the health insurance lobby and they themselves have a great health insurance paid by us the people. This is a health insurance that they decided to deny us, because they believe that they are special and deserve better than we the people. This is an abomination, and these people should be voted out of office asap.

Posted by: simon7382 | February 27, 2010 2:57 AM | Report abuse

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