A great video. This is a U.S. Senate hearing about healthcare in the United States and Canada. The two senators asking questions are: Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Independent) and Richard Burr from North Carolina (Republican). The ladies being questioned are: Dr. Danielle Martin of Toronto, Canada and Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, U.S.
The background to this debate is important. The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 and I was amazed that it ever saw the light of day. For years there has been sharp debate about reforming the American healthcare system. That debate turned downright hostile and ugly right up until President Obama signed it into law. Ever since, there have been efforts to repeal it and it didn't help matters that the rollout went very badly. There is something in the ACA legislation for everyone to hate. What I heard when I was in Seattle last summer is that the Left in the U.S. says it doesn't go far enough and is basically designed to make private insurance companies rich and the Right says it's just another big intrusive government program that will bankrupt the country sooner or later.
As for the American diaspora there was real concern last year that the mandate to have healthcare would apply to them which is silly because many already have access to healthcare programs or very reasonably priced healthcare in the countries they live in. The idea of paying twice made some of us rather testy but the good news is here. Or is it good news? The rule is that US citizens abroad can avoid the ACA healthcare mandate provided that they stay out of the US for at least 330 day in a year. So, if you are an American abroad, long stays in the U.S. are out. Another incentive not to come "home" for a visit?
What struck me the most about the debate was the insistence on the part of the Republican senator on the awfullness of non-U.S. healthcare. Now I'm a pretty conservative lady but I spent over 20 years of my life under the U.S. healthcare system and then 20 or so under Japanese and French healthcare. Hands down, the healthcare was better, more accessible and affordable outside the United States. And it's not just my subjective experience that says so, it's any number of organizations that don't have any reason, frankly, to say good or bad things about U.S. healthcare like the World Health Organization. (For those who say that the WHO does have a reason because "everybody hates us" - Oh, get over yourselves.)
The fact (and it is one) that U.S. healthcare is not the "best in the world" does not mean that the Affordable Care Act is the only answer. What one Seattle Democrat said to me was: "Well, it was the best we could do." Wow, what an endorsement.
So I'm going to reserve judgment and see what happens. But when I see American lawmakers dissing other systems and trying to shore up an untenable position, well, I have something to say about that. The argument should not be about who has the "best" (though as a cancer patient I'm happy to be living in what most argue is the best healthcare system in the world), it's about coming up with the best system for the United States - one that gives good care to every homeland citizen at a price that is reasonable and sustainable. I may swing conservative in many ways but I am adamantly against any human being suffering and dying because they can't afford care. That's just not right.
And just for fun, a Flophouse reader pointed out this study by the AARP, Association of American Retired Persons (not a radical Socialist organization as far as I know) called 5 Myths about Canadian Healthcare. It certainly answers one of the most common assumptions of some Americans which is Canadians are just flocking to the US to escape their dreadful system. AARP says, no, over 99% of Canadians don't head south for healthcare....