Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The right-wing pushes health care myth

Here's yet another right-wing soundbite that fails to pass the sniff test:

Waiting Times For Care? Try Looking At The U.S. - Nurses, Doctors Say It's Time To Debunk The Myths
"There's been a lot of clamor lately about delays in care in some other countries. But if you want to see some really unsightly waiting times, look at U.S. medical facilities," said Deborah Burger, RN, president of the 75,000-member CNA/NNOC.

While the problem has been largely overlooked by the major media, it was quietly exposed by the chief medical officer of Aetna, Inc. late in Aetna's Investor Conference 2007 in March.

In his talk, Troy Brennan conceded that "the (U.S.) healthcare system is not timely." He cited "recent statistics from the Institution of Healthcare Improvement… that people are waiting an average of about 70 days to try to see a provider. And in many circumstances people initially diagnosed with cancer are waiting over a month, which is intolerable," Brennan said. [...]

A Commonwealth Fund study of six highly industrialized countries, the U.S., and five nations with national health systems, Britain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, found waiting times were worse in the U.S. than in all the other countries except Canada. And, most of the Canadian data so widely reported by the U.S. media is out of date, and misleading, according to PNHP and CNA/NNOC.

In Canada, there are no waits for emergency surgeries, and the median time for non-emergency elective surgery has been dropping as a result of public pressure and increased funding so that it is now equal to or better than the U.S. in most areas, the organizations say. Statistics Canada's latest figures show that median wait times for elective surgery in Canada is now three weeks.

"There are significant differences between the U.S. and Canada, too," said Burger. "In Canada, no one is denied care because of cost, because their treatment or test was not 'pre-approved' or because they have a pre-existing condition." [emphasis added]
No wonder Canadians are pushing back against commercial efforts to open up their system to for-profit health services.


CEW said...

"pre-existing condition" taken to its logical extreme can include all illnesses known or believed to be expressing a genetic predisposition. In a sense, if you manifest an illness said to require a genetic predisposition, its potential existed in you prior to actual manifestation.

expatbrian said...

Hi Kathy,
I've read thru your entire series on the health care crisis and it is excellent. You seem to be the only one I read giving it this much attention and I'm glad someone is. As a vet I qualify for free care in VA hospitals for life. However, living overseas I would have to go back to the US to make use of it if needed. I also cannot get medicare here so when I retire I am on my own. The good news is, just across the border in Malaysia, there is excellent care for very low prices.
Keep up the good work.

abi said...

The wait-time argument is bogus on the face of it. Who cares if elective procedures take a little longer to get, if that's the tradeoff for having everyone covered?

Your first link also mentions a number of medical outcomes that are better in Canada than here. And let's not forget that per-capita spending is cheaper in Canada, too.

So why is it that the country that likes to think of itself the greatest nation the world has ever seen can't figure out how to provide health care for all?

abi said...

I just saw Michael Moore on Larry King, and he got off a great line about the wait times in Canada. The reason you might have to wait a little longer for medical care in Canada, he said, is because there are so many people in line getting care. If they excluded about a sixth of their population from the health care system, the lines would no doubt be shorter. ;-)