Acton Institute Powerblog

Ted Cruz highlights the dangers of EU healthcare systems in debate with Bernie Sanders

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In an age of sound bite orations and 140-character manifestos, the nation received a rare treat from CNN this week. On Tuesday night, Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders debated the merits of national healthcare reform for two hours. The format gave both sides the opportunity to make substantive arguments, and Ted Cruz did not disappoint.

The Texan pointed out that Senator Sanders, an advocate of Scandinavian socialism, has suggested the United States adopt policies more akin to European welfare states which, Sen. Sanders says, spend less than the United States on healthcare:

He often points to Canada, the United Kingdom; he says, “Why do we pay more?”

Well, there’s a reason we pay more than those countries. We get a lot more and a lot better health care.

Let me give you some basic facts. … The United States, population-controlled, delivers three times as many mammograms as Europe, two-and-a-half times the number of MRI scans, and 31 percent more c-sections. We provide more health care.

Not only that, in the United Kingdom, for example, [there are longer] wait times. In 2013, you waited 72 days for cataract surgery; you waited 89 days for hip replacement, 95 days for knee replacement. There are 3.7 million people in the United Kingdom right now on a waiting list, waiting for health care. …

A 2001 report noted that 39 percent [of women] over 80 in the United Kingdom received surgery for breast cancer, compared to 90 percent of the women under 50. And that men and women under the age of 55 were two-and-a-half times more likely than those over 75 to receive cancer treatments.

Although true, this list hardly scratches the surface. I note on the Acton Transatlantic website that the NHS faces such pressures the British Red Cross says it constitutes a “humanitarian crisis.” I pull together some of the relevant data:

The NHS has missed its goal of a four-hour wait time – from the moment a patient enters an accident and emergency (A&E) department to hospital admission or discharge – every month since July 2015. Unable to meet their chosen benchmark, Health Minister Jeremy Hunt responded by suggesting the government lift the four-hour target for most patients.

Long stays in crowded emergency rooms are not limited to the UK. Across the Atlantic, a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that 10 percent of Canadians had to wait 28 hours to get a hospital bed in 2014.

By contrast, the average wait time in the United States was just over two hours in 2010-2011, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  …

After canceling a record number of urgent surgeries in November, NHS officials announced they had canceled all non-urgent surgeries between December 16 and January 16. In Kent, the moratorium has been extended until April.

And according to Dr. Kristian Niemietz of the UK’s foremost free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), tens of thousands of Brits have died who would have survived had they been treated in another nation’s healthcare system.

CNN believed the topic is important enough to merit two hours of broadcast time. To the British people, it is a matter of life and death. People of faith will want to understand the real dangers of socialized medicine before endorsing well-intended principles that harm those made in God’s image.

Read the details here.

Rev. Ben Johnson Rev. Ben Johnson is Senior Editor at the Acton Institute.

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