[digg-reddit-me]Alex Massie is probably right that there are “two essential truths in international health policy,” namely that:
No-one sees fit to copy the National Health Service and no-one sees fit to copy the American system.
But even given this, the right wingers have taken smearing Britain’s National Health Service too far. Chuck Grassley claimed, for example, that “Sen. Edward M. Kennedy would be refused treatment for his brain tumor in England.” As Matt Yglesias pointed out:
[T]here’s actually a two-fold lie here. First Grassley falsely implies that congressional Democrats are proposing to create an NHS-like system. Second, he lies about how the NHS operates. And he pays no price for it.
And despite what Cassandra over at Villainous Company has to say, Grassley is lying. Calling Yglesias an “evil-monger” and saying that “Google is not Matt Yglesias’s friend,” she claims that the drug Senator Kennedy is being prescribed for his tumor is prohibited by the National Health Service. Her source? An “expert” quoted by NewsMax – who forgets to mention that the drug – Temodar – was invented in Britain and has been prescribed by the National Health Service since 2007 2005. The “expert” also claims, the drug would be “available to every American.” Which is true. Every American who can pay for it. And the same was true in Britain even when the National Health Service did refuse to prescribe the drug. Now, of course, in Britain, the drug is actually available to everyone in that country – whether they have the money to spare or not.
This two-fold lie about the National Health Service is one of the pillars of the right wing smears against the proposed Democratic health care plan – most disasterously used of course by the Investors Business Daily in discussing Stephen Hawking. Hawking later told the Guardian:
I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS,
But that’s still not the point. This whole conversation about Britain’s National Health Service is a distraction. Very few Democrats or liberals or progressives want anything resembling the British system. What is at issue is a plan to improve upon the system we currently have – modest steps. Though, as Ezra Klein explains, the modesty and popularity of what the Democrats are proposing is the reason Cassandra, Senator Grassley, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and other right wingers are pretending the Democrats have proposed something else:
In part, that’s why the debate has had to move toward fear-mongering and lies: There just aren’t that many scary elements in the bills, because the legislation is oriented toward preserving the existing system and avoiding points of controversy.
And so, we face this unhinged debate about totalitarianism – a fearful fantasy – instead of a reality-based discussion of the system we have and how it can be improved upon. Which is why the right wingers spreading these lies and smears and distractions just so they can achieve a political victory and slingshot their way back into power as they did in 1994 should be ashamed.