09 Sep 2009 My Take On the President’s Speech
In his speech tonight, the President told the stories of several Americans who have had struggles with the American health care system, and unflatteringly compared the U.S. health care system to systems in other ‘advanced democracies.’ But people who live in those other advanced democracies would love to have the quality and quantity of care Americans routinely take for granted. And the stories the President shared in his speech, touching as they are, are not by any means worse than the stories Ryan Balis and I collected about the trials faced by people in Canada, Britain, Australia, Japan, Sweden and other nations with public systems.
The White House released a guest list of people who were to sit with the First Lady during the speech that included a gentleman whose insurance company delayed a colonoscopy for several months. A few months’ delay is commonplace in countries with government medicine. In our collection, we tell the story of a man on Australia’s public system who was told he had to wait TWO YEARS for a colonoscopy.
In the section of his speech about Senator Kennedy, the President evoked the sad hypothetical case of an American having to tell a loved one, ‘there is something that could make you better, but I just can’t afford it.’ In Britain, it is estimated that 25,000 people die prematurely every year because the British government-run health care system ‘can’t afford’ cancer drugs Americans take for granted. Surely the President knows this.
A few weeks ago, the President famously claimed that a noteworthy expense of the U.S. health system occurs when doctors unethically try to make money by performing tonsillectomies unnecessarily. Although the President’s allegation was preposterous, this wouldn’t even be a credible lie in many countries with government-run systems, where it can be difficult to even get a tonsillectomy. In one of the stories we’ve collected and made available for download, a small child in a public health system abroad waited TWO YEARS for a tonsillectomy.
The President complained in his speech that people oppose his public option because of ‘politics.’ He’s just wrong. People oppose his public option, including triggers and government-backed co-ops and any other back door route to government-run health care, because they fear what government-run health care always brings: pain, misery and death. Anyone who doubts this should download a free PDF of our new book and read for themselves what President Obama’s co-called ‘public option’ would really be like.