by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Medicare for All may not be a part of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s agenda. But the rest of the party is smitten with the idea of a federal takeover of our health-insurance system.
Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Biden’s running mate, co-sponsored Senator Bernie Sanders’s (D., Vt.) Medicare for All bills in 2017 and again in 2019. Last week’s Democratic National Convention, meanwhile, featured speeches from many of single-payer’s most visible proponents, from Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) to Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and progressive activist Ady Barkan, who runs the Be A Hero PAC and suffers from ALS.
In fact, the moderates and progressives within the Democratic Party largely agree that they want to work toward Medicare for All. They just disagree on how to get there, and how fast.
A detour to Canada should disabuse them of their fondness for single-payer. Our northern neighbors wait months for routine care and lack access to the latest life-saving medications and technology. Importing this system would lead to widespread misery.
I know firsthand. I was born in Canada and watched the government-run health-care system there turn a blind eye to my mother’s suffering. After experiencing stomach pain, she requested a colonoscopy but was denied one because of her age; there were too many younger people ahead of her on the waiting list. By the time she got one, her cancer had become untreatable. She died shortly thereafter.
I’ve been educating Americans about the pitfalls of single-payer for years. …
… But Canada’s health-care system does not merit praise.
Long waits for care are a fact of life in Canada. Last year, the median wait between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment from a specialist was nearly 21 weeks.