As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rudy Gets Government-Funded Health Care From Euro Doctors!

This latest radio ad from Rudy Giuliani about health care is a perfect example of the Big Lie, where someone packs so many deliberate fabrications into one 30-second spot that it's almost too difficult to unravel them all. But Ezra Klein does a good job. Basically, Rudy says in the ad that the survival rate for prostate cancer in the US is 82%, and in England, with "socialized medicine," it's 44%. This is not true.

England and America have vritually the same mortality rates from prostate cancer. In England (as of 1997), 28 males of every 100,000 died from prostate cancer. In America, then number was 26. The difference comes in "incidence" -- there are many more diagnoses of prostate cancer in America, as we have an aggressive screening process.

Problem is, most of those cancers simply aren't deadly, or even necessarily damaging. They're slow-moving and benign. It's like saying we have a lower death rate from car crashes because we record more near-misses in the statistics. We may indeed have a slight advantage of prostate treatment, but it's not what Guliani is suggesting it is.

In Giuliani's age group, where screening evens out, the percentages are precisely the same. In addition, most of that screening in later years falls under the Medicare program, which is - boo! - socialized medicine! And indeed, if you actually judge apples to apples, using a metric like years of life lost due to the health care system, the United States is actually pretty terrible, especially considering we spend twice as much on health care as practically every indstrialized nation.

But the most intriguing part of Klein's takedown was this postscript at the end.

Wouldn't it be interesting to find out if the gold-standard care Giuliani got during his prostate cancer came while he was on government-provided health insurance? He was mayor at the time, suggesting his care was coming through the city, which would suggest it was through the state insurance pool, which works very much like FEHBP -- which is what the Democrats are proposing to expand to all Americans, and what Giuliani is calling deadly, socialized medicine.

And more has been added to that story today:

[T]he technique used on Giuliani, prostate brachytherapy--using radioactive seeds--was pioneered in the modern era by a physician in Denmark, and brought to the US by one of his students.

You'd think a guy whose life was saved by brachytherapy would admit, however grudgingly, that European socialized medicine ain't all bad.

Rudy's seeming "plan" is to give people a tax incentive on purchasing health care (which is not at all the same as a subsidy, and people who can't afford health care to begin with aren't taxed at the rate where such an incentive would make any difference). But he wouldn't rely on that same health care system to deal with his own medical issues. To sum up:

So Giuliani's case for the superiority of our "free market" health care system goes something like this: While on health insurance provided by New York state, he was treated, using a surgery developed by Europeans, for prostate cancer, a disease that most commonly afflicts those covered by the federal government's single-payer health care system. Take that, Europe/national health insurance.

The incoherence is just staggering.

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