The Pipes Proviso

When our oldest daughter was in second grade her best friend was a classmate who was the daughter of an ophthalmologist from Canada. He devoted much of his practice to treating Medicaid patients at the county hospital.

The family moved to Ottawa at the end of the school year and we traveled to visit them. We had lunch at a deli near the doctor’s office, close by the Parliament building. Speaking of his practice, he said he had a six-month waiting list to see patients for basic treatment, and that once he saw them he was unable to provide anywhere near the quality of care to his prominent Canadian patients that he had to indigent Minnesotans. The necessary equipment was simply not available.

This was twenty years ago, but the experience has stayed with me and I doubt the situation has improved in the meantime. Here I turn to our friend Sally C. Pipes, the president, CEO, and Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. PRI is a non-profit think tank based in San Francisco that’s dedicated to advancing opportunity for all people through free-market policy solutions. Steve Hayward is a fellow of PRI.

Sally is the author, most recently, of the Encounter Broadside pamphlet The Cure For Obamacare. The pamphlet is only the latest product of a long career warning us off nationalized medicine and promoting constructive health care reform. You might say this is her moment.

Sally testified this past Tuesday at a hearing held by a Senate subcommittee this week on Canada’s single-payer, “Medicare-for-All” system — a system with which she is intimately intimately familiar as a student of health care policy and a native of Canada. Her testimony is posted here and worth reading in its entirety. Here Sally draws on painful personal experience to give an example of several of the flaws of the Canadian system:

I’ve seen the failures of Canada’s system firsthand.

A few years ago, my mother suffered from severe stomach pain and suspected that she might have colon cancer. Her primary-care doctor ruled out that possibility following an X-ray. When she asked about getting a colonoscopy, she was told that she was too old; there were too many younger people with serious symptoms who were already on a six-month waiting list for the test.

Within four months, she had begun hemorrhaging and lost 35 pounds. After two days in the emergency room and two in a “transit lounge,” she finally got a colonoscopy. Sure enough, she had colon cancer. She died two weeks later.

Who knows how much more time we could have had with her, if her doctor had been committed to treating her cancer early on?

Here in the United States, there are some limited, Canada-style single-payer experiments underway. The Veterans Administration’s health system is the most notable…

Canada’s system is the destination to which the American left wants to deliver us. Please check out Sally’s testimony if you have any interest in the issues.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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