CNN's Blitzer Lauds National Health Care: 'Works Well' in Canada, Europe

As Wyoming Republican Senator John Barasso appeared as a guest on CNN's Wolf show, host Wolf Blitzer pushed for the creation of a national health insurance program along the lines of the Bernie Sanders "Medicare for all" plan as he claimed that a similar system used in Canada and Europe "works well."

In spite of all the debate there has been for decades about the shortcomings of government-run health insurance, Blitzer's Republican guest -- who is a surgeon -- had to school the CNN host on the problems of rationing in Canada and Europe, and the problem of some medical providers in the U.S. not receiving enough reimbursement from Medicare.

 

 

As the two began the segment at 1:55 p.m. ET by discussing the latest plans for trying to repeal ObamaCare, Blitzer posed:

What's wrong with Senator Bernie Sanders's proposal -- he's got about 15 other Democrats who have co-sponsored this new legislation to allow the United States to have a health insurance system along the lines of every other industrialized country, whether Canada or Britain, all the countries in Europe, other countries around the world? There's comprehensive health insurance guaranteed for all citizens.

After Barasso began by recalling the problems of such programs being expensive, Blitzer jumped in to follow up:

But it works well in the UK or France or Canada or other countries. You get sick, you don't have to worry about health insurance. You go to the doctor, you go to the doctor of your choice and you get treated. If it works well in all these other major industrialized countries, why wouldn't it work well here?

The Republican Senator then schooled Blitzer on the problem of health care shortages in countries with government-run health insurance:

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It depends what you describe as "work well." If you're a patient in England right now, realizing that the numbers are so bad for the amount of time people have to wait for an appointment, emergency room waits spiked to more than a 12-hour delay. If you have a chronic condition, 18 weeks before you get to see the doctor. In Canada, where they talk about the free care, as a surgeon in Wyoming, I have operated on people from Canada who can't afford to wait the time for their free operation. 

There's articles written, "Leaving Canada for Health Care," and many are coming to the United States, even though it's free, because in Canada the waits are so long. And once they spend a certain amount of money -- cataract surgery, total joint replacement -- for the year, they cut it off. And usually that's around Halloween. It's why they call Canadian medicine "trick-or-treat medicine."

The CNN host persisted:

What's wrong with having a system where you do have guaranteed Medicare -- let's say "Medicare for all," for everyone -- no one is going to go without health insurance and medical treatment? But, at the same time, if you can afford it, you have private insurance at the same time, and perhaps you can get some better treatment. What's wrong with a double-tier system like that?

As Senator Barasso argued that opening up the program to more patients would undermine services for the elderly that the program currently focuses on, Blitzer jumped in to further press:

They're happy right now, the seniors that are on Medicare. It's a system that works for people in the United states for people who are 65 and older. Why not expand it for those who are 55 and older?

Transcript follows:

WOLF BLITZER: What's wrong with Senator Bernie Sanders's proposal -- he's got about 15 other Democrats who have co-sponsored this new legislation to allow the United States to have a health insurance system along the lines of every other industrialized country, whether Canada or Britain, all the countries in Europe, other countries around the world? There's comprehensive health insurance guaranteed for all citizens.

SENATOR JOHN BARASSO (R-WY): Well, first of all, this is truly the litmus test for the liberal left with all of the Democrats who are looking to run for President in 2020 signing onto it. The issue is, the bumper sticker is pretty good, but when you get into the specifics, the details, the nuts and the bolts, what does this actually take from someone, not what does it give them, what does it take from them in terms of the money? They've tried to do this other places and have tried in the state of California, even in Bernie Sanders's home state of Vermont. They got rid of it because they realized the costs would be more than twice --

BLITZER: But it works well in the UK or France or Canada or other countries. You get sick, you don't have to worry about health insurance. You go to the doctor, you go to the doctor of your choice and you get treated. If it works well in all these other major industrialized countries, why wouldn't it work well here?

BARASSO: It depends what you describe as "work well." If you're a patient in England right now, realizing that the numbers are so bad for the amount of time people have to wait for an appointment, emergency room waits spiked to more than a 12-hour delay. If you have a chronic condition, 18 weeks before you get to see the doctor. In Canada, where they talk about the free care, as a surgeon in Wyoming, I have operated on people from Canada who can't afford to wait the time for their free operation.There's articles written, "Leaving Canada for Health Care," and many are coming to the United States, even though it's free, because in Canada the waits are so long. And once they spend a certain amount of money -- cataract surgery, total joint replacement -- for the year, they cut it off. And usually that's around Halloween. It's why they call Canadian medicine "trick-or-treat medicine."

BLITZER: What's wrong with having a system where you do have guaranteed Medicare -- let's say "Medicare for all," for everyone -- no one is going to go without health insurance and medical treatment? But, at the same time, if you can afford it, you have private insurance at the same time, and perhaps you can get some better treatment. What's wrong with a double-tier system like that?

BARASSO: For senior citizens right now on Medicare, we want to make sure we have a strong, secure system for them. I think this undermines their ability to get care. You know, many doctors --

BLITZER: They're happy right now, the seniors that are on Medicare. It's a system that works for people in the United states for people who are 65 and older.

BARASSO: It does work --

BLITZER: Why not expand it for those who are 55 and older?

BARASSO: Because fewer and fewer doctors want to take care of Medicare patients because the reimbursement from the government is so low. I talk to hospital administrators, and they're saying, "We lose money on Medicare patients." So, to do that across the board, you'd look at more hospitals consolidating or closing, and you'd undermine, I believe  the integrity of Medicare for our seniors. And that's who it was designed for. You know, my mom is in her 90s now. The year she was born, life expectancy for a woman in this country was 56. Now, it's 81. So when you go back to the old speeches of Lyndon Johnson and why they wanted to do Medicare, it was for the widows because most of the guys by 65 were going to be dead when they set that age of 65. So I want to make sure that Medicare, which is currently being stressed financially, is there for our seniors. And I think what Bernie is proposing is going to undercut the integrity of the program.


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CyberAlerts Medicare Canada Europe Britain France Health Care Medical Insurance CNN Other CNN Video Wolf Blitzer John Barrasso Bernie Sanders