Opinion

The Great Debate

Refuting healthcare myths

David Magnus– David Magnus, Phd, is the director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. The views expressed are his own. –

The public discussion of healthcare reform has been full of so many lies and myths that it is less a policy debate than bad theater.

Critics of reform (conservatives hoping to score political points and oppose Obama on anything; free market ideologues; those with threatened financial interests) have stooped to absurdity in their public pronouncements. One publication declared that severely disabled physicist Stephen Hawking would never get life saving medicine in a national health system, ignoring that Hawking is British—virtually all of his life saving treatments were done through their National Health Service.

As debate over reforming health care continues, these are some of the key myths that get in the way of truly meaningful discussion.

Myth #1—We have the best health care in the world

This is probably true for some Americans. But on the whole our system is among the poorest of all developed nations. We spend far more per capita than any of our peers on healthcare, yet health outcomes measures are no better in aggregate. The World Health Organization ranking of health systems rated 36 other countries as having better health systems despite spending far less. The U.S. was right behind Costa Rica (and only two spots ahead of Cuba).

from Commentaries:

Allen Stanford’s many lives

The clock is still ticking on what would appear to be an inevitable indictment for disgraced Texas financier R. Allen Stanford, the man who allegedly ran an $8 billion Ponzi scheme out of his Antigua-based bank. It appears the federal prosecutors manning the investigation are trying to make sure they have an airtight case before filing criminal charges--something Stanford and his lawyer expect will happen any day.

At first blush, it's hard to fathom why it should take this long for prosecutors to file charges, given that Stanford and two of his top associates were the subject of a civil action by the Securities and Exchange Commission nearly three months ago. One of those associates, Laura Pendergest-Holt, has even been indicted on federal obstruction of justice charges. But still nothing on Stanford.

Bryan Burroughs, in the most recent issue of Vanity Fair, does a good job detailing how just about every US investigative agency was on Stanford's tail for more than 15 years. But whether it was allegations of money laundering, or fleecing investors with the sale of dubious CDs, no one was ever able to get the goods on Stanford.

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