A Misinformed Senate

A Misinformed Senate: Like the mule-headed outlaws in the movie the Maltese Falcon, “I-don’t-need-no-stinkin’-facts” U.S. Senators were brought to reality by a Canadian physician at recent Senate hearing on healthcare. The high point was an exchange between Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Danielle Martin, a physician and health policy professor from Toronto. After listening to Sen. Burr pontificate over the superiority of the U.S. Healthcare system, Martin pointed out that the U.S. was not one of the world’s leading healthcare providers but ranked 35th among nations. Canada, she added, and several other countries, have successful and popular government-sponsored single-payer systems that provide universal coverage and outdo the United States––for far less money. Not to be deterred, Senator Burr pointed to Martin’s testimony about a Canadian’s decision to have a heart valve procedure in Miami, where he owns a condo, rather than Canada. Martin explained the Senator’s example simply showed a rich man’s failure to investigate the same care available for far less, closer to home, and the failure of gossip to research truth. Martin added that the pioneers of heart valve surgery with the best outcomes in the world are in Toronto, at the Peter Munk Cardiac Center. Sen. Burr then asked why doctors were exiting the public system in Canada? MARTINreplied there are no doctors exiting the public system in Canada. Instead we see a net influx of physicians coming to Canada from the United States. She added, what you describe, Senator Burr is faulty perception, fueled in part by media disinformation. Paying more for something doesn’t necessarily makes it better. In fact evidence points to just the opposite: The best care costs less. Sen.Burr then asked,on average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year? MARTIN shrugged and replied that 45,000 Americans die waiting every year because they don’t have insurance at all.  Martin added, what I do know is that allocation of resources should be equal and not based on how much you can afford. Turning to the audience, she pointed at them and then at Senator Burr, and quipped, like the lines to enter this building are long and winding for the general public yet immediate for Senators like you. Richard Dorsey, Hacienda Heights, CA.

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