I was at a North American medical research conference in Ottawa, sitting in the hot tub having a spirited discussion about (or aboot) the relative benefits of the Canadian single payer health care system as opposed to a pluralistic one such as we have in the States when one of the Canadians turns and says “You know, you Yanks spend as much in FEDERAL money on health care as we do in Canada, then you double it and still get worse outcomes.” That kinda hurt…

My “throwdown” with the Canadians ended with us buying another drink and going to dinner. I hope the same can be said for Senator Burr (R-NC) and Dr Danielle Martin. Dr Martin was brought in to testify aboot the horrors that are Canadian health care. Senator Burr, a proud consumer of health care, anticipated waving the American healthcare flag in Dr Martin’s face. The exchange can be seen on C-Span and was covered by the LA Times. The exchange goes something like:

BURR: Why are doctors exiting the public system in Canada?

MARTIN: Thank you for your question, Senator. If I didn’t express myself in a way to make myself understood, I apologize. There are no doctors exiting the public system in Canada, and in fact we see a net influx of physicians from the United States into the Canadian system over the last number of years.

She goes on to point out that the Australian experience proves that adding more choice does not necessarily reduce wait times

BURR: What do you say to an elected official who goes to Florida and not the Canadian system to have a heart valve replacement?

MARTIN: It’s actually interesting, because in fact the people who are the pioneers of that particular surgery, which Premier Williams (the Newfoundland Primae Minister who had a valve replaced in Florida) had, and have the best health outcomes in the world for that surgery, are in Toronto, at the Peter Munk Cardiac Center, just down the street from where I work.

She goes on to point out that innovation and quality are more likely to be found in Canada

BURR: On average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year? Do you know?

MARTIN: I don’t, sir, but I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.

The Senator goes on to have the last word, however, and point out the Americans can always go to the Emergency Room. Dr Martin refrained form pointing out that the Canadians can as well. They just don’t have to.