Just because the Senate Finance Committee defeated two amendments that would’ve created a public option doesn’t mean that the public option is dead…yet. We’ve passed the first test but there’s many hurdles left to go before we kill the bad reform legislation that the Democrats are proposing. One thing we should be highlighting is the fact that Canada is seeking a private option:

When the pain in Christina Woodkey’s legs became so severe that she could no longer hike or cross-country ski, she went to her local health clinic. The Calgary, Canada, resident was told she’d need to see a hip specialist. Because the problem was not life-threatening, however, she’d have to wait about a year.

So wait she did.

In January, the hip doctor told her that a narrowing of the spine was compressing her nerves and causing the pain. She needed a back specialist. The appointment was set for Sept. 30. ‘When I was given that date, I asked when could I expect to have surgery,’ said Woodkey, 72. ‘They said it would be a year and a half after I had seen this doctor.’

So this month, she drove across the border into Montana and got the $50,000 surgery done in two days. ‘I don’t have insurance. We’re not allowed to have private health insurance in Canada,’ Woodkey said. ‘It’s not going to be easy to come up with the money. But I’m happy to say the pain is almost all gone.’

Whereas U.S. healthcare is predominantly a private system paid for by private insurers, things in Canada tend toward the other end of the spectrum: A universal, government-funded health system is only beginning to flirt with private-sector medicine.

Hoping to capitalize on patients who might otherwise go to the U.S. for speedier care, a network of technically illegal private clinics and surgical centers has sprung up in British Columbia, echoing a trend in Quebec. In October, the courts will be asked to decide whether the budding system should be sanctioned. More than 70 private health providers in British Columbia now schedule simple surgeries and tests such as MRIs with waits as short as a week or two, compared with the months it takes for a public surgical suite to become available for nonessential operations.

Let’s be honest about this fight: because we have don’t have the numbers, Republicans don’t have the numbers to affect positive change. We also don’t have the bully pulpit. What we’ve got, though, is appealing ideas that are based off of verifiable information. The more people read stories like this, the better our options look.

One argument that we must start making is that insurance for all is worthless if we don’t have enough medical professionals to treat people. I wrote here about the IBD poll of 433 doctors. Here’s a refresher of that post:

The great concern is that, with increased mandates, lower pay and less freedom to practice, doctors could abandon medicine in droves, as the IBD/TIPP Poll suggests. Under the proposed medical overhaul, an additional 47 million people would have to be cared for, an 18% increase in patient loads, without an equivalent increase in doctors. The actual effect could be somewhat less because a significant share of the uninsured already get care.

Even so, the government vows to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from health care spending to pay for reform, which would encourage a flight from the profession.

What’s more is that there are amendments pending that would tie private insurance payments to the Medicare payments. That would have catastrophic results. Doctors, hospitals and clinics couldn’t stay in business. They’d need bailouts to keep operating. Where’s the savings then?

Another thing we should be highlighting is the fact that we’ll need massive new tax increases to pay for reform. At minimum, that’s a volatile subject right now. Why would we want to pay higher taxes for an inferior product, especially when we don’t have the money?

Another thing to highlight is the possibility (likelihood?) that lower reimbursements would lead to layoffs of medical personnel. If doctors, hospitals and clinics don’t have the money to pay all of their expenses, isn’t it likely that they’ll cut costs?

Shouldn’t Americans start asking why Canada, which has experience with the system Sens. Schumer and Rockefeller proposed, is opting to move away from their system? Why are Canadians illegally building private clinics? I’ll keep my eye on this because I’m betting that the private clinics will become wildly popular with the Canadian people. I’ll bet that these clinics will prosper because they won’t have to wait in line like they’re currently doing.

Another difference between private clinics and hospitals vs. government-run facilities is that private facilities will be more responsive to their patients, which will lead more people picking private facilities over government-run facilities.

Finally, let’s challenge the Democrats to keep ‘public option plans’ afloat without without tax increases, price controls and mandates. The simple fact is their system would quickly collapse. We know that because Medicare is collapsing right now.

Let’s learn from Canada’s and Great Britain’s mistakes. Yes, I know Sen. Schumer will tell us that his system wouldn’t be anything like Canada’s and Great Britain’s systems but that’s pure spin. Schumer’s plan will result in price controls and rationing just like Canada’s and Great Britain’s systems.

Only then will we be able to change directions and implement positive reforms.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

3 Responses to “The Path To Positive Reform”

  • J. Ewing says:

    Where are we going to find another couple of hundred Joe Wilsons? Every time people like Schumer tell a howler like “it won’t be like Canada’s system” somebody needs to shout out “you lie.” Schumer may or may not believe it, but that’s simply the unimportant difference between deceit and delusion.

  • eric z. says:

    It’s a big lie, WSJ style.

    Nobody in Canada wants it beyond a few uber-rightwing whackjobs.

    Where’s your statistical proof, either percentage of healthcare in Canada sought from private sources; or percentage in any credible poll saying they want a private option.

    And then, private option, Gary, is the keyword. Not privatized.

    OPTION. The word the uber-rightwing-whackjobs keep ignoring or mischaracterizing.

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