Monday, July 13, 2009

McCain On Health

Who said this?

"The fundamentals of our economy are strong."

Right- John McCain (and here he is, in video below, imploding right before America's eyes!) And in addition to his views on President Obama's economic plan being taken seriously on yesterday's Meet The Press, so were his ideas on health care, a rather significant component of economic reform.

There McCain was just as superficial and clueless as he was during the campaign, telling host David Gregory:

But we're losing sight of the fact that the highest quality health care in the world is in the United States of America. That must be preserved. So the key, what we should be focusing on is affordability and availability for all Americans. I don't think that these proposals are doing that.

The first thing that jumps out is one of the GOP's key talking points: "the highest quality health care in the world is in the United States of America."

No one could figure out why the Arizona senator believes this, nor did Gregory choose to threaten the inside the beltway consensus about the American health care system. McCain did not tie his assertion, what he carelessly referred to as "fact," to anything. Admittedly, he continued

I was at MD Anderson in Houston. People--with Senator McConnell and Senator Cornyn. We did a healthcare town hall. People from 90 countries all over the world were there. They could have gone anyplace in the world. The best, highest quality health care is in America. It's the costs that's the problem.

It is unclear whether McCain was using that apocryphal story to demonstrate that health care in the U.S.A. is tops, though we have to hope he wasn't. He never said why "people from 90 countries" were at the healthcare town hall, perhaps some of them for the opportunity to see the man who almost became President of the United States and had been a war hero. Or perhaps McCain had promised him some of his famous barbecue.

Or perhaps the multitude had made the pilgrimage to the cancer center in Houston because the health care system in their home countries was subsidizing their treatment, while the health insurance industry was blocking that same treatment for Americans. The U.S. health care system is good at cancer- treatment, that is, not the less profitable prevention. A study by the Commonwealth Fund International Working Group on Quality Indicators comparing the quality of care among five different countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, U.K., U.S.A.) found that breast cancer five year relative survival rates and cervical cancer screening rates are in fact particularly high in the U.S.

However, 19 other indices were examined and "taken together, the research findings reveal that while the U.S. far outspends other countries on health care, more money does not translate into better quality of care."

It is possible that Senator McCain is unaware that the American people are being shortchanged not only by the cost, but also by the quality, of the health care system. But as the writers of note here, and elsewhere, there is a de facto line the mainstream media is not to cross when discussing U.S. health care: while acknowledging that the system is overly expensive, one must never, never acknowledge it is expensive relative to that in other nations. If crossed, that would undermine the great unwritten law of Republican (and moderate Democratic) rhetoric: ours is the best and we mustn't borrow from anyone else.

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