U.S.-Canadian health care smackdown

Let’s settle the U.S.-Canadian health care debate once and for all

Sometimes, I drink a little too much Red Bull in the morning and my brain goes in directions that startle even me. This morning, on my second can of Red Bull, I came up with the particularly inspired idea of a North-South Health Care Smackdown.

In a nutshell, I’m convinced it’s time for a grudge match between the United States and Canada.

You heard me. Those crazy “socialists” to the north have threatened our great country and our way of life for far too long. They’ve been luring our anglers north. They’ve been cannibalizing our ginger ale market. And for decades, they’ve been trying to out-health us. (“Out-healthing” is not a widely accepted term yet, but it will be after the Smackdown.)

If the health care debate was not worthy of a duel, U.S. and Canadian politicians would not have already spent years pointing back and forth across the border at each other’s budget-gutting, death-inducing health care systems, right? Why, just last week, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt (chair of the House Republican Health Care Solutions Group*) told the media that if you’re over 59 in Canada, your days of getting hip replacements are over. (It wasn’t true, but it was quotable.)

He’s not alone in condemning Canada. Opponents of proposed health reform legislation point at the waiting lists that apparently cause thousands of knees and hips to go un-replaced for months at a time. They tell horror stories of Canadians forced to escape across the border so they can be saved by the Best Health Care System in the World.**

Canadian politicians, meanwhile, point to 47 million uninsured Americans – 14 million more people than the entire population of Canada (a population which, by the way, is pretty much entirely insured). I’m guessing the Cannucks probably also point to the thousands of Americans who have made Canada a part of their vacation plans because it’s cheaper to pay for gas to Niagara Falls than it is to pay for their prescription drugs in Buffalo.

(Studies show that prescription costs in Canada – where the government negotiates prices with the drug companies on behalf of its citizens – are 24 percent lower than in the United States. And actually, some European counties have negotiated discounts over 50 percent.)

I think it’s time to settle this cross-border beef now – before we have to build a 15-foot electric fence to keep thousands of Canadians from making a mass exodus to get a piece of the “Best Health Care System in the World.”

We’ve already spent way too much time dropping anecdotal tidbits here and there in the media and throwing around claims in Congressional committee meetings. It’s time for a high-ranking U.S. politician (Roy Blunt?) to make the drive to Quebec and slap a glove across the face of one of those death care-loving Canadians.

Then, we schedule the Smackdown. We let the U.S. and Canadian politicians each pull their top health care experts and economists and put them on TV in a prime-time health care battle royale. The Americans trot out the hip-replacement refugees clad in stars and stripes. Canada shows off the empty Maple leaf flag-draped chairs representing its uninsured population.

Chart vs. chart … statistic vs. statistic … let’s settle this health care brag-a-thon once and for all.

Come on Canada. LET’S DO THIS, EH?

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EDITOR’S NOTES:

* At the time this was written, Roy Blunt was in the U.S. House of Representatives. Now he is a member of the Senate.

**Not everyone is convinced the U.S.A. is ranked “best.” For instance, the World Health Organization ranks the American health care system the 37th best. WHO ranks Canada higher, as well as all of western Europe, Japan and several countries in the Middle East.

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