Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed a health reform plan that includes a public option. Meanwhile, on the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rolled out “a bill worth fighting for.” Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra predicted that Congress will soon pass a comprehensive health reform bill.
Fearing that health reform is getting closer to passage, the right-wing is escalating its rhetoric by issuing dire warnings of its consequences. Interviewed by the Washington Times, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) was asked if “government-run health care” will “end up killing more people than it saves?” Coburn responded, “Absolutely.”
A couple of right-wing congressman voiced similar doom-and-gloom rhetoric on the House floor yesterday:
Rep. Steve King (R-IA): “They’re going to save money by rationing care, getting you in a long line. Places like Canada, United Kingdom, and Europe. People die when they’re in line.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): “One in five people have to die because they went to socialized medicine! … I would hate to think that among five women, one of ’em is gonna die because we go to socialized care.”
“Many Americans are under the delusion that we have ‘the best health care system in the world,’” the New York Times editorial page wrote in 2007, but “the disturbing truth is that this country lags well behind other advanced nations in delivering timely and effective care.”
Comapred with Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, the United States ranks last in all dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives. The United States currently ranks 50th out of 224 nations in life expectancy, with an average life span of 78.1 years, according to 2009 estimates from the CIA World Factbook.
Canada, Great Britain, and many of the other countries that the right-wing enjoys beating up on actually like their health systems and wouldn’t want to trade places with an American. Moreover, Americans don’t get a good bang for our buck. A Business Roundtable study found that compared to France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom, U.S. workers and employers receive 23 percent less value from our health care system than the citizens of these other nations.
And, as the chart below shows, the U.S. spends the most per person on health care, but actually has worst life expectancies than many countries which spend less: