Daschle Wrong on Health Care

From David Hogberg:

The Missoulian reports on a visit by former Senator Tom Daschle to Missoula:

Daschle had come to town as part of his “Naked Truth” campaign to raise awareness about America’s health care crisis.

And what is that “naked truth”?

Let’s destroy the myths,” he said. It’s a myth that the nation’s health care system is the best in the world, he said.”That couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Daschle said.

He rattled off some dire statistics. The United States ranks 28th in outcomes, 37th in infant mortality and 45th in life expectancy, as measured by the World Health Organization, he said.

So, I responded with a letter to the editor, but the Missoulian never published it:

Former Senator Tom Daschle is wrong. (“Former U.S. senator looking to raise health care awareness,” October 12.) America does have the best health care system in the world.Cancer data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that the U.S. has the highest cure rate for breast and prostate cancer. An article in the British Journal of Surgery found that the mortality rate for patients in British hospitals after major surgery was four times higher than in American hospitals. A recent article in the journal Circulation showed that the 5-year post hear attack mortality rate was higher in Canada than it was in America. That was due to the fact that America does more angioplasties and bypass surgeries. Since we do more of those procedures than any other country as well, the U.S. is probably the best place to be for a heart attack.

Daschle claims we are not the best by relying on measures like life expectancy and infant mortality, measures that tell us next to nothing about the quality of a health care system. Research shows that life expectancy is determined by factors such as gross domestic product per capita, literacy, diet and sanitation. Factors such as health care spending or doctors per capita have no effect. Infant mortality is measured too inconsistently across nations to be a meaningful measure. For instance, France excludes any infant born before 26 weeks, while Switzerland excludes an infant measuring less than 30 centimeters. This makes their infant mortality rate look much better when compared to the U.S., which includes all infants that show any sign of life.

Before Daschle goes off on a misguided crusade to let government run our health care system, he should first know what he is talking about.

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