Health Care or a Waiting List

June 9, 2009 by  

The hottest national domestic political issue is certainly the health care reform debate.  It’s going on right now in Congress and the President has said he wants a bill on his desk by October at the latest.

There are many unknowns about what will emerge and some Arizona Legislators argue that we should not even consider legislation protecting patients’ rights until after we see definitive action from Congress.

I couldn’t disagree more.  The ideas being seriously considered only lead to one conclusion:  Government-controlled healthcare. The insidious part of it is that politicians are likely to create legislation with a government-run or public option without calling it that – to make it more palatable to those who oppose an overt government takeover of another 18% of our GDP. 

Which is why I sponsored the Healthcare Freedom Act.  It’s proactive and, if passed, will protect patients’ rights to healthcare no matter what comes down the pike. 

U.S. healthcare needs serious reform – no doubt, but a one-size-fits-all “solution” that decides when and who will receive care is the ultimate impediment to access to health care.  We would be wise to examine and avoid the pitfalls from other countries’ government-run systems before repeating their folly.

Our closest example, of course, is Canada which some incredibly still hold up as a national model the United States should emulate.  Their system simply doesn’t work and has proven ineffective.  To control costs, healthcare rationing and waiting lists are the norm.   As a result, one out of every three physicians sends a patient across our border for treatment each year – and spend $1 billion annually on health care in this country.

Consider 66 year old Lindsay McCreith, who was told he had a brain tumor but that he would have to wait four and a half months to get an MRI so that he could rule out the possibility that it was cancerous.  Unwilling to risk his life, Mr. McCreith got an MRI in Buffalo, which revealed the tumor was malignant.  Returning to Canada with this diagnosis, he was told that the wait for brain surgery would be eight months – enough time for the cancer to worsen, spread, and progress to an irreversible stage.

Access to a waiting list is not access to health care. 

Here are more hard facts:  Norway, another country with nationalized health care, has an estimated 280,000 Norwegians waiting for care on any given day out of a population of 4.6 million.  The average wait for hip replacement surgery is more than 4 months, and 23% of all patients referred for hospital admission have to wait longer than three months to be admitted.

And Britain’s Nat’l Health Service has reported that, at any given time, nearly 900,000 Britons are waiting for admission to National Service hospitals and shortages force the cancellation of more than 50,000 operations each year.

Sweden?  The wait for heart surgery can be as long as 25 weeks and the average wait for hip replacement surgery is more than a year.

Again, quality health care is getting the treatment you need when you need it – not weeks or months later or denied altogether because it doesn’t make a cost structured recommended therapy list!

What Americans are looking for in healthcare is more access to treatments and more doctors with less interference from insurance companies and Washington bureaucrats.  A centralized healthcare system will not deliver that.

The Healthcare Freedom Act, if passed by voters at the ballot in 2010, will protect citizens from reforms that take U.S. healthcare in the wrong direction.

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