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Single-payer universal health care reform - National and by state
Joined: 06 Dec 2005
|Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:30 pm Post subject: National Union of Public and General Employees defends CN
|Canadian Union Writes Obama & Congress Defending Canada's Healthcare
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The President of the National Union of Public and General Employees
(NUPGE), one of Canada's largest unions, has written President Barack
Obama and all members of the U.S. Congress asking them to look past the
"malicious misrepresentations and scare tactics" in the current debate
over American health care reform and see the true value of Canada's
single-payer health system.
James Clancy, NUPGE President, said he felt obligated to write to the U.S.
legislators after conservative Prime Minister Harper and Health Minister
Aglukkaq refused to step in and counter the anti-Canadian propaganda being
spread by private health care interests battling health care reform in the
Clancy said a multi-million-dollar tidal wave of special-interest
propaganda is trying desperately to obscure the fact that Canada's
single-payer health care system has been "a triumph of values and
economics" for more than 40 years.
Clancy wrote that his country's health outcomes, on almost every critical
measure, are among the best in the world, and Medicare covers all
Canadians at substantially less cost than U.S. citizens pay for a system
that leaves millions without coverage.
"It's totally unthinkable to Canadians to experience bankruptcy due to
medical bills, as do over one million Americans every year. Unlike in the
U.S., not a single Canadian who is unemployed has lost the ability to
access health care during the current economic recession."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of
Canada's largest labor organizations with over 340,000 members. #30#
Full Text of Letter Appears Below:
July 24, 2009
Barack H. Obama, President of the United States
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
All members of the U.S. House of Representatives
All members of the U.S. Senate
I am writing to you on behalf of the 340,000 members of the National Union
of Public and General Employees (Canada) about the scurrilous
misrepresentations of Canada and our single-payer health system in the
debate over the future of health care in the United States.
We applaud you for reopening the national discussion of health care reform
in the U.S. There are various policy proposals on the table and you'll
have important decisions to make in the months ahead. As legislators, it's
critical that you use the best available evidence to inform your
Unfortunately, rather than a true debate about its merits, Canada's
single-payer system, and by extension Canada's reputation, has been the
victim of a multi-million dollar tidal wave of special-interest propaganda
and scare tactics. You need to know that an objective examination of the
evidence reveals that Canada's single-payer health system is the triumph
of values and economics.
Our system speaks volumes about the character of our nation. It provides
all Canadians with equal access to care on the basis of need, not wealth
or privilege or status. Previous generations understood that sickness
doesn't discriminate and they made the collective moral decision that
health care shouldn't discriminate either. It was a courageous initiative
by visionary men and women that changed us as a nation and cemented our
role as one of the world's compassionate societies. We will always defend
the proud legacy we have inherited from previous generations of Canadians.
Indeed, Canadians today still strongly support the core values on which
our system is premised - equality, compassion and solidarity. In fact, our
Medicare system is now tied to our understanding of citizenship. More than
just a social program, Medicare to us represents a birthright and an
identifying mark of "Canadian-ness". It is, we believe, the clearest
reflection of who we are and what we value.
But more than that, our single-payer system is, quite simply, a good and
sensible idea that serves Canadians extremely well. The overheated
rhetoric and outright falsehoods that you've heard about the quality and
viability of Canada's system simply do not stand up to scrutiny.
When it comes to health outcomes, on almost every critical measure,
whether it is life expectancy rates, infant mortality rates, or potential
years of lost life, Canada rates much better than the U.S. and we're among
the best in the world. Notwithstanding the "real life" stories you've
heard in TV ads launched by the group Patients United Now, a very strong
majority of Canadians who use the system are highly satisfied with the
quality and standard of care they receive.
In terms of controlling costs, health spending in Canada is on par with
most countries in the Western world and it's substantially lower than in
the U.S. And yet we devote a smaller portion of Gross Domestic Product to
health care today than we did over a decade ago. It's totally unthinkable
to Canadians to experience bankruptcy due to medical bills, as do over one
million Americans every year. Unlike in the U.S., not a single Canadian
who is unemployed has lost the ability to access health care during the
current economic recession.
In addition, our single-payer system provides both small and large
businesses in Canada with a clear competitive advantage. Employers don't
have to provide basic health care for their workers - our single-payer
system does that. Our businesses also enjoy the benefits of a healthier
and more productive workforce thanks to our universal system. Unlike in
the U.S. where basic health care is a major source of labour relations
strife, it's hardly an issue at the bargaining table in Canada. We also
enjoy greater labour mobility because workers who don't have to worry
about losing health benefits are more willing and able to switch jobs and
move to where the work is.
Finally, what you're being told about government-run health care with
patients suffering and dying on wait lists is nothing but lies. No need
for emergency or urgent care is ever neglected in Canada. If your doctor
says you need the care urgently, you get it, period. Moreover, Statistics
Canada reports that the median wait time for elective surgery is four
weeks and the median wait time for diagnostic imaging like MRIs is three
weeks. And contrary to popular myth, we're free to choose whatever doctor
we want. And all decisions about care and treatment are left to patients
and their doctors - there's no interference by the government or private
An objective review of the evidence shows that Canada's single-payer
system has consistently delivered affordable, timely, accessible,
comprehensive and high-quality care to the overwhelming majority of
Canadians on the basis of need, not wealth. It has also contributed to our
international competitiveness and the productivity of our workforce.
Times of great need, we are told, are the times when true leaders emerge
and display the ability to separate fact from fiction and the courage to
set aside political agendas for the sake of the common good. The challenge
facing health care reform in the U.S. demands that kind of ability and
courage from each of you.
I would be pleased to speak or meet with you at anytime, or if you're
interested we could arrange a "study mission" to Canada, to ensure you
have an accurate picture of the benefits and popularity of Canada's most
cherished social program. Please do not hesitate to contact my office.
All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care--HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
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