About That "Sarah Palin Going To Canada For Health Care" Story…
Sarah Palin haters and health-care refrom advocates have been having a field day with this quote made by Sarah Palin at a speech in Canada:
My first five years of life we spent in Skagway, Alaska, right there by Whitehorse. Believe it or not—this was in the '60s—we used to hustle on over the border for health care that we would receive in Whitehorse. I remember my brother, he burned his ankle in some little kid accident thing and my parents had to put him on a train and rush him over to Whitehorse and I think, isn't that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada," Palin said a speech Saturday night, according to the Calgary Herald.
Here's Sam Stein at the HuffPo getting a dig in:
The irony, one guesses, is that Palin now views Canada's health care system as revolting: with its government-run administration and 'death-panel'-like rationing. Clearly, however, she and her family once found it more alluring than, at the very least, the coverage available in rural Alaska. Up to the age of six, Palin lived in a remote town near the closest Canadian city, Whitehorse.
And here's Jezebel:
Hat tip: Dave Weigel of The Washington Independent.
Well, get out the double-irony alert-o-meter. Canada was not born with the single-payer system it currently has. In fact, the full-blown socialization of its medical sector was a long time coming and was not in anything like its current state in the 1960s. In the early '60s, Canada had passed laws pushing universal access to hospitals; in 1966, the Medical Care Act allowed each province to create universal coverage systems, which took years to fully implement. It was only in 1984 that the current system really came online in the Canada Health Act, which banned patient fees and billing by doctors in excess of what the government paid. Read about it here.
I'm no fan of Palin, but it tells us precisely nothing about Sarah Palin or Canadian health care that her family might have used the system there in the 1960s.
But as long as we're doing irony, let's not forget about Newfoundland premier, Danny Williams, who in February elected to come to the U.S. for heart surgery. That seems to be more directly on point with regards to health care reform. Though even that really tells us nothing. I don't know, for instance, if Canadian tax dollars paid for the trip and the surgery, which would be in keeping with Great White North's system (even if it suggests that even the most-connected folks in Canada vote with their aortas for care generated elsewhere).
More irony (though that's not the word I would use, as this statement makes me want to puke): The U.S. government spends about $1,000 more per person on health care than does Canada's government (approximately $2,700 per versus $1,900). Which is simply amazing: Our feds are managing to deliver the worst of both worlds. USA Number 1!
Last year, Reason.tv checked in the Canadian health care system. Here's some of what we found: