Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dianne Norton on US Healthcare

Dianne Norton
(Dianne is the daughter of former Saskatchewan Premier Woodrow Lloyd)
The Guardian
14 August 2009

Woodrow Lloyd
In the summer of 1962 we awoke to find the word "Commie" scrawled in bright red paint across the front of our family home and my father, Woodrow Lloyd, branded a "murderer". His "sin" was to lead the Saskatchewan government, which was trying to introduce the first "socialised" health scheme in North America. How little has changed in 47 years. ('Evil and Orwellian' – America's right turns its fire on NHS, 12 August).

While the medical establishment in Canada was quite capable of generating its own propaganda – doctors would strike (they did), leading to the necessity of importing medics branded by one newspaper as "the garbage of Europe" – it was aided and abetted by professional bodies from south of the border, which financially backed the anti brigade as well as distributing leaflets designed to terrify the populace.

The government would use its powers, they claimed, to legalise abortion and mercy killing, and everyone would have to no choice but to accept the doctor allocated to them by the government. Doctors insisted that, under the plan, government would control all aspects of their practices and no doctor would be allowed to practise outside the plan – all untrue.

Women were particularly targeted with stories about threats to their unborn children not dissimilar to Sarah Palin's vision of "death panels". Families and communities throughout the province were riven apart as people took sides with a bitterness that lingered on for years. Two-thirds of the province's doctors declared their intention to strike on 1 July, but help was at hand in the form of scores of British doctors, who flew in and began establishing community clinics, with the help of supportive locals, in towns and cities throughout the province.The final act was conducted by the eccentric and determined Lord Stephen Taylor, a member of the British Labour party, who had earned his peerage for the vital role he had played in the design and implementation of the UK's National Health Service.

Taylor hammered out a settlement between the doctors and the government that was to lay the cornerstone of "socialised" medicine throughout Canada. Within a very few years, every province in Canada benefited from its own brand of Medicare. Ask any Canadian what makes them different from Americans and they will cite with pride our Medicare system. The wedge that the American medical establishment so feared was well and truly driven into the continent that summer. It's sincerely to be hoped that President Obama can follow where Saskatchewan led.

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