Case in point; recently former Alaska governor and GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin referred to Britain's system of national health insurance as evil. This charge including that word have since been picked up by numerous other critics of proposed health reform. Now one might expect a demagogue and professional wind bag like Rush Limbaugh to make those kinds of remarks. But Palin is widely seen as having very high political ambitions. Those kinds of remarks are depressing because they demonstrate a lack of restraint and gravitas on the part of people who are leading the debate on one of the most important legislative reforms our country has considered since the civil rights laws of the 1960's.
Oddly no one seems to care that someone many Republicans hope to one day see run for President has seriously ticked off our country's closest ally. Although it has gotten little play in our media and press, in Britain public opinion was deeply shocked buy Palin's harsh remarks. Many Britons have responded in language that can't be printed on a Christian blog. But in summary there seems to be a consensus that Palin is a bloody idiot who is not ready for this country's top job. This does not bode well should she seek the presidency. But I digress.
My own views on health care reform are somewhat mixed. Excepting radical libertarians I think there is a general agreement that our system is gravely flawed and in need of some sort of intervention. The U.S. health care system has been consistently ranked for decades near the bottom of developed nations by the World Health Organization and International Red Cross. Costa Rica is ranked higher than us! But beyond acknowledging that we have a mess there is almost no agreement on what to do about it.
For my part I will not be able to support any legislation that provides for state funded abortion or mandates abortion coverage by private insurers. Beyond which, I am reserving judgment until I see what Congress produces in actual bills. I don't mind a debate. But let's all tone down the rhetoric a bit.
In closing I thought I would post a comment from T-19 by someone who is no raving liberal about Britain's "evil" National Health Service...
This debate arouses such strong feelings in the US that I am a little scared to contribute here, let alone kick off. But I feel I have to. Along with a lot of people in the UK I have been surprised to see our health care system held up by US critics and trashed. Often the information is inaccurate. And lots of people over here have been dismayed, and indeed angered, to see Daniel Hannan MEP joining in the mauling. Traitor is among the words some have apparently been applying to him. By contrast here are some of my most recent experiences. I may have to wait two or even three days to see my physician (if I say it is urgent, he will see me that day). I have had blood tests and a CT scan. For both I just walked into the hospital and waited: 10 minutes for the blood test, one hour for the scan. I am on medication for hypertension and (typical of men my age) benign prostate hyperplasia. All of this costs me nothing, except what I pay through my taxes. All of it has been readily and easily available. A friend’s son lost a leg in a road accident: he had nothing but praise for the acute care his son received, including a high-tech artificial leg. All free. The really big things seem to be done well: organ transplants, intensive care, heart surgery, orthopaedics and paediatrics.-Terry Tee from T-19
Often it is, paradoxically, the simpler things that seem to be problems in the NHS. It has too many administrators. Cleanliness and hygiene have sometimes been substandard. And yes, unless there is manifest urgency, sometimes you have to wait. Care of the terminally ill has not been brilliant, but we have developed and nurtured a growing hospice movement for this which is run independently usually by local charities. I think that oncology provision is spotty, good in some regions, not in others. Geriatrics is regarded us unromantic and a low priority, and therefore is chronically underfunded. People would prefer a private or shared room in place of the wards they are stuck in, with their lack of privacy and mixing at times of the sexes. Food is often ghastly. And yes, sadly, the state funds abortion.
So: the British NHS presents a mixed picture. But not, please note, the hideous caricature that is sometimes portrayed right now in the US as part of the fierce debate about health care reform.