Vouchercare – When Truth is Demagoguery

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The Republican spin machine is in overdrive working on their plan to replace a government-run program (Medicare) that directly pays health care providers with a program that would funnel taxpayer funds to private insurance companies (Vouchercare). They are trying to convince the media that their plan to end Medicare is actually a plan that creates a “new, sustainable version of Medicare.”

As Atrios puts it, “when we replace the Marines with a pizza, we’ll call the pizza the Marines.”

Part of the Republican’s effort to frame the issue has to do with the portrayal of the Canadian system, that is also called Medicare. One often repeated claim is that “so many” Canadians coming to America for their health care. Pay-for-play think tanks are ever-willing to write a “study” supporting that claim.

However, a comprehensive study in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs, entitled “Phantoms In The Snow,” provides evidence of a different answer. The report surveyed United States border facilities in Michigan, New York, and Washington, those closest to all those Canadians clamoring to get into the U.S.

As can be seen from the table above, almost 40 percent of the facilities reported treating no Canadians, while an additional 40 percent had seen fewer than ten patients. In addition, conditions categorized as emergency/urgent and pregnancy and birth, constituted about 80 percent of the stateside admissions. It’s unlikely that a Canadian would waste the transportation time to come to the U.S. in an emergency. The pregnancy/birth cases are obviously Canadians looking to create “anchor babies.”

As soon as the “hoards of Canadians” story gets shot down, we get the story that Canadian doctors are leaving for the U.S. The actual evidence is that, in each of the years 2005 and 2006, 122 Canadian doctors, out of over 60,000 active physicians in Canada, came to the U.S. I have no data on how many returned.

While wealthy Canadians can afford to seek out the very best health care anywhere in the world, the meme, that Canadian patients and doctors are so dissatisfied with Canadian Medicare that they come the U.S. in droves, is not supported by the evidence. A realistic view of the Canadian system with its shortcomings and strengths is not part of the Republican agenda.

H/T: The Incidental Economist (Aaron Carroll), Paul Krugman, PrawfsBlog.

27 thoughts on “Vouchercare – When Truth is Demagoguery”

  1. Planned Parenthood thanks you again Tootie – the $5 I am sending them for your inane bullshit post will go to help provide real health care to women that would normally not have access.

    It may be costing me more than I can afford but at least you are not a totally useless carbuncle on society now.

    http://www.plannedparenthood.org – button to donate is on the right

  2. Marc Sobel, “I am leaning toward a heuristic, (like Occam’s razor) which is when Conservative’s make a generalized statement about the world the opposite is true.”


    It’s getting to be a big club. That principle also works equally as well for specific statements if one isn’t familiar with the specific issue.

  3. Tootie, At least one posting in the ongoing discussion is irrelevant, now probably two, but you get my drift 🙂

    May I remind that we unreconstructed, bleeding-heart liberals that view the Constitution as a living document, get a lot of mileage out of that “promote the general Welfare” thing 🙂

  4. The Federal government has no authority to run a health care operation for citizens (military veterans excepted). Preferably only those with severe injuries following BATTLEFIELD service or severe injury as a result of service.

    So the blog post and the entire discussion about the Canadians is irrelevant.

  5. Nal,

    Thank you as usual. Unfortunately, as we both know this truth won’t be disseminated,
    instead we’ll here the same false memes over and over, reported by a media more interested in penis pictures.

  6. Thank you, Nal!

    As someone who lived in Canada for 30+ yrs, you have no idea how many times once repatriated to the US I’ve tried to debunk that Canadian hordes myth. Now I’ve got the perfect ammo. Kudos.

  7. I am leaning toward a heuristic, (like Occam’s razor) which is when Conservative’s make a generalized statement about the world the opposite is true. I call it the Conservative Certainty Projection.

    A fine equal and opposite example pair are:
    Conservatives state that evolution doesn’t exist but rather divine Intelligent Design (the opposite of the truth)

    yet Conservative believe in Social Darwinism which states that the Wealthy have survived because of superiority (moral, hard work, intelligent, courage etc,) instead of the massive institution and governmental deliberately (intelligently) designed policies which prop them up.

  8. “As soon as the “hoards of Canadians” story gets shot down,”

    They always as your article states come up with another.I think this is how they come up with this stuff,as you see its not ‘koolaid” but it helps with the spin:

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