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Monday, June 8, 2009

Canadian Health System Flawed... But Canadians Say Fix It, Not Nix It

In response to last week's coverage of the superiority of the Canadian health coverage system to America's, an eager reader sends this letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate in Alberta. I'm unable to verify the story via independent reporting, but Paula ZoBell of Lacombe tells the disgraceful story of a mother of four who died because of medical incompetence and bureaucracy.

Before you defenders of the creaky American status quo leap to the conclusion that a public health coverage system kills moms, take a close look at the letter and the responses in the comment section that follows it. Nowhere does ZoBell call for an end to public health coverage in Alberta. She lays her blame not on government paying medical bills but on the conservative provincial government not giving rural medical services enough money. She blames procedural restrictions that put money over lives (the same critique I've laid against the American private insurance system that denies people coverage and makes treatment unaffordable).

ZoBell's call to action is about making universal coverage live up to its name:

Please call or e-mail your MLA and the premier and tell them that every person deserves acute primary care, no matter where they live, and access to timely transportation to large hospitals.

The commenters respond with laments about the deterioration of the provincial health care system, but not one of them calls for scrapping the system and adopting American-style health care. They talk instead about voting out the Ed Stelmach government and making the system work.

Gee, if only we had the option of voting out the heads of private insurance corporations and replacing them with leaders who care about people more than profits. That would be accountability!

Update 12:45 CDT: By the way, the strong public option proposed by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) in his Americare Health Insurance Act (HR 193) would get 100% coverage and reduce costs! Tell your Congresspeople!

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