Friday, June 12, 2009

This Time, We Won’t Scare

Perhaps you've seen those television commercials denouncing health care reform as a plot to create a Canadian-style totalitarian nightmare, and you feel a wee bit scared.

Back in the election campaign, some people spread rumors that Barack Obama might be a secret Muslim conspiring to impose Sharia law on us. That seems unlikely now, but what if he's a covert Canadian plotting to impose ... health care?

Rick Scott, a former hospital company chief executive, leads a group called Conservatives for Patients' Rights. He was forced to resign as C.E.O. after his company defrauded the government through overbilling and is now spending his time trying to block meaningful health care reform by terrifying us with commercials of "real-life stories of the victims of government-run health care."

So here's a far more representative "real-life story."

Diane Tucker, 59, is an American lawyer who moved to Vancouver, Canada, in 2006. Like everyone else there, she now pays the equivalent of just $49 a month for health care.

Then one day two years ago, Ms. Tucker was working on her office computer when she noticed that she was having trouble typing with her right hand.

"I realized my hand was numb, so I tried to stand up to shake it out," she remembered. "But I had trouble standing."

A colleague called 911, and an ambulance rushed her to the nearest hospital.

"An emergency room doctor met me at the door, and they took me straight upstairs to the CT scan," she recalled. A neurologist explained that she had suffered a stroke.

Ms. Tucker spent a week at the hospital. "The doctors were great, although there were also a couple of jerks," she said. "The nursing staff was wonderful."

Still, there were two patients to a room, and conditions weren't as opulent as at some American hospitals. "The food was horrible," she said.

Then again, the price was right. "They never spoke to me about money," she said. "Not when I checked in, and not when I left."

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