DR. MIKE NEWCOMB AND THE FACTS

In his article promoting the administration's health care plan (Opinion,AZ Republic, 8/18)Dr. Mike Newcomb, talk show host on KPHX, said "The facts don't lie." True. But some facts are not necessarily relevant to the debate.

In his piece he says the U.S. ranks 50th in life expectancy. Actually, life expectancy in the U.S. has grown by 1 1/2 years in the last decade to 78 and we rank 30th (AP/AZ Rep, 8/19) Be that as it may, our life expectancy has more to do with our eating habits than with medical care. As fat as our country is getting, a 1 1/2 year growth in life expectancy should be viewed as a triumph of our medical system.

He says we rank 19th (last place of 19 countries) in preventable deaths from treatable diseases. And yet we are 4 times as likely to survive cancer (one of the most prolific killers) in the U.S. than in any other country in the world. And the U.S. tops the poll in compassion and caring of doctors toward patients.

He says 100,000 Americans die annually of medical errors but fails to report how many such errors per capita occur in other countries. He says our infant mortality rate is higher than many countries but fails to tell us that many of them don't count babies who die within 24 hours of birth or premature births. We count them all. He says 47 million are without health insurance, knowing full well that only about 15 million are chronically uninsured, and that can be addressed without destroying our system.

Finally, he says the "Public Option" is free market competition. I hope he is a better doctor than he is an economist. The public option is designed to destroy private health insurance and pave the way to total government controlled health care. No private insurance company can compete with an entity (the government) that does not have to show a profit to survive - simply take more from the taxpayer. To say that a majority of Americans favor the public option is patently false. He either doesn't read the polls or ignores them.

Many Americans seem to be enthralled by the word "free" when combined with "nationalized health care" at point hopefully North. It is relevant to note that the current, newly appointed president of the Canadian Medical Association, (equivalent to our AMA) Dr. Ann Doig, has just announced that the Canadian national health care system is imploding. Dr. Robert Ouellet, the previous president of CMA, had warned of this last year in a speech at the Fraser Institute (11/6/08). He spoke of endless waiting lines, families who cannot find a primary care doctor, a requirement for treatment (5 million out of a 34 million population), health care workers and doctors "viewed as costly irritants instead of...valuable resources" and a system that "has forgotten that health care is about caring and compassion." It is also of note that he stated "When it comes to concrete results for money spent Canada ranks 30th among the industrialized nations that have modern health care systems. That's 30th out of 30." Dr. Ouellet actually suggests reintroducing private health care, albeit heavily regulated, as a supplement to the Canadian system. He pointed out that the British improved their system by tying reimbursement to hospitals directly to patient care (instead of a global budget) which created -oh my gosh - COMPETITION!!!! It was recently pointed out by a doctor who had toured Britain's hospitals, however, that he say equipment that had not been used in the U.S. for a couple of decades.

Today, Dr. Brian Day, another former CMA president said that over 1 million Canadians are waiting for surgery and over 1 million are waiting to see a specialist. The reason? Rationing and runaway cost. He said that in British Columbia 42 percent of the budget goes toward health care and is expected to reach 80 to 90 percent in the future. This is socialized health care.

In his Op-ed piece, Dr. Newcomb praises the medicare system of health care delivery. He fails to mention that it was born with legislation assigning it about $60-70 million dollars the first year. It is now a $500 billion budget item. If the good doctor thinks Mr. Obama can provide universal coverage for $90 billion a year, I think I can sell him the Black Bridge in Camp Verde.

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