Oh Canada!

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Lord knows the health care reform movement could break down over the coming months in a number of different ways, but one tired old rhetorical avenue should be, one can only hope, permanently closed offduring this latest effort to fix the out-of-control-cost-wise-and-deeply-dysfunctional-all-otherwise American way of health care: that is the old bogeyman of yelling "Canada!" in a crowded operating theater whenever reform efforts begin to gain traction.

Can we just acknoweldge once and for all that a U.S. reform does not mean socialized medicine. In fact even going so far as switching to a single-payer system does not equal socialized medicine despite all the scaremongering on the right or among industry lobbyists and their media toadies--you know the people who have a clear, vested interest in maintaining the dreadful status quo. Besides if the current system, which rations out 50 million of us and bankrupts thousands each year who are covered, is the standard, I say bring on the Canadians and their commie health care.

Canadian health care costs taxpayers less, costs less overall, and produces better outcomes than the U.S. delivery system. More than 92 percent of Canadians say they are satisfied with their system, and despite rhetoric to the contrary, no one is picking their doctors for them.

The facade of U.S. superiorty in health care delivery falls down pretty quickly in any rational comparisons with European, Asian, and Canadian systems. The fact is most OECD member states are spending half as much to get better outcomes in life expectancy, infant mortality, or any other quality measure, including patient satisfaction. That only makes sense because what our system is ultimately designed for is not better health outcomes, but higher profit margins.

Try dealing with your insurance provider's "office spaced" bureaucrat when negotiating for treatment sometime. I would welcome a civil servant to this task , but I come from a family full of civil servants, cops, firefighters, etc., so I don't look upon government service with the distaste and suspicion apparently shared by a loud minority of my fellow citizens.

Here are some neat debunking cheat sheets/reality checks to refer to in the forthcoming summer blockbuster health care debate:

CNN's Candadian comparison

"Debunking Canadian health care myths" from the Denver Post

"10 Myths About Canadian Health Care, Busted" from Physicians for a National Health Program

OECD cost/outcome comparison

Just a quick reminder from the USCCB, which has long advocated health care as a human right (and not health insurance as a cultural/free-market option--there is a big difference):
"Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right. With an estimated 47 million Americans lacking health care coverage, it is also an urgent national priority. Reform of the nation's health care system needs to be rooted in values that respect human dignity, protect human life, and meet the needs of the poor and uninsured, especially born and unborn children, pregnant women, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations. Religious groups should be able to provide health care without compromising their religious convictions. The USCCB supports measures to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid. Our Conference also advocates effective, compassionate care that reflects Catholic moral values for those suffering from HIV/AIDS and those coping with addictions." #80

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (November 2007)