The Koch Brothers Lie About Canadian Healthcare

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This is a guest post by Ian, originally published at The Real Story.

The Koch brothers are spending $6million on a new anti-Obama ad; an ad featuring a Canadian woman from Ontario.

Shona Holmes claims our medicare system blocked her from getting the immediate treatment she needed to prevent her from dying from a brain tumour.  She mortgaged her home to buy life saving treatment at a Mayo Clinic in the US.

Except she never had a brain tumour.  She had a benign cyst on her pituitary gland.  Very serious, but not life threatening and treatable in the time period planned in Ontario.

I completely get the fear one goes through when you get told you have a tumour on or near the brain.  I do have a brain tumour and have come close to dying more than once.

My tumour is actually a brain stem tumour that has spread throughout the area around my brain stem, around my throat, below my nose, on my spinal chord and flopping around next to my carotid artery.

It will probably kill me, not now, but someday. But more importantly, I’m alive because of our medicare system.

Friends I made during treatment in the States didn’t have Canada’s options.  They died.  Let me tell you about that.

In 2002 I had a tennis ball sized tumour excised from my nasopharyngeal cavity.  The surgery saved my life but wasn’t enough to keep me alive.  Scalpels couldn’t get every microscopic chunk of tumour so the next step was radiation.

The problem with radiation around the brain is that it kills the good with the bad – you can decide for yourself which is which.  So I needed something precise with a record of effectiveness.  In my case that meant proton radiation.

Proton radiation isn’t available in Canada.  At the time there were four sites in the US that offered it and I was referred within two weeks to Loma Linda hospital, just off the number 10, half way between LA and Palm Springs.

All it took was a letter from my radiologist to MSP reviewing my condition and very limited treatment options.  The full expenditure was immediately approved and I was on my way to Loma Linda.

I spent three months there at the out patient clinic buried deep underground with it’s concrete walls a metre thick.  Proton radiation requires an atom splitter and Loma Linda had a big track underground that created the velocity to smash atoms and send a single proton ray down a tube and out a gun into my head.

It was right out of DC comics.  Lex Luthor was probably sitting alone in some white office behind the thick walls, laughing at us.

Five days a week I’d go in for my treatment, strapped down on a metal bed with a mask molded to my face, keeping my head still as the proton gun pumped the rays into it.

Like some crazy asylum, the waiting room was full of patients.  Most were there for one of two reasons – brain tumours or prostate cancer.  The prostate guys were generally older, richer white men who could afford to pay for the best, optional treatment for prostate cancer.  They gathered around the TV and watched Fox news.

The others were regular folks with brain tumours and HMO funding.

There was a free phone in the waiting room and there was always a line for it.  At the end of the line was a patient on the line, often to their HMO talking about funding.

I made friends there with a woman from Texas with a lousy husband, kids and her own promising career.  Except, like me, she had a chordoma.

The treatment for chordoma was 8-10 weeks of proton radiation, give or take a few days.  It cost somewhere between $100 and $200 thousand and most HMO’s didn’t want to cover it.  My friend was no exception.  So several times a week she’d get on the phone to plead with her insurer to pay for another week of treatment.

She didn’t complete the treatment.  And she stopped answering my emails a year later.  She was dead.

I met a very funny guy from the South with some kind of cancer of the scalp.  He didn’t complete.  He’s dead.

I was asked to talk with a young guy who didn’t have the money to get a proper diagnosis until too late.  So as the chordoma destroyed the vertebrae in his neck he saw a chiropractor who told him he was out of alignment.  For two years he was out of alignment.  Then in terrible pain he saw a real doctor.  He didn’t complete.  He’s also dead – late diagnosis, limited treatment.

There are problems with our system.  Waiting lists for painful but less catastrophic illnesses are often too long.

But in Canada there are no people at the end of a phone pleading for funding to continue life saving treatments.  People die in the States because they can’t afford treatment and their private plans won’t pay for it.

I’m at the BC Cancer Clinic a lot.  I see frustrated people.  I’m often frustrated.  But I don’t see people pleading for treatment they need but can’t afford.  None.  You can’t say that about the US.

People like me, living in Canada, have it so much better.

Watch the Americans For Prosperity attack ad below:

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I'm Canadian, living and working in the Alberta Oil Patch.

My parents split up long ago, my mom and step father moved to the US, and my father and step mother went to small town BC.

My step father founded and operated a private hospital in the US.   Meanwhile back in Canada, my father (dentist) had to deal with a lot of medical issues in a small town in BC.  He wound up with some cross border medical care for treatments that were not available in Canada, but common place in the states.

The first illusion in the US, is that of 'choice'.  For the most part, people are getting the health care the company they work for provides for them.  There is little difference between one provider and the next.

In the US, the blur between business and health care has caused a lot of damage.  The profit motive often overrides health care priorities.  'Pre-existing conditions' can wipe you out simply because an insurer can no longer make a lot of profit off of you.

The typical US HMO offers worse service than is available in Canada.  And in Canada, I can travel to any province and expect treatment.  (In the US, you are generally limited to only one hospital.)  A US HMO is more limited, and costs a lot more since it must make a profit.

Watch Sicko for a good comparison.

And some numbers, the US spends nearly double what we do in Canada.

Americans live shorter lives;

One last bit… I have seen negative outcomes in Canada.  I am also very familiar with the differences from one side of the border and the other.  Some family members have gone across the border to get medical services by paying cash. (This is equivalent to an American who is denied treatment by an HMO.)

My point is that I pay less, get more, live longer, and get better service.  I haven't seen any alternatives that can compete in Canada.  After a land mark case in Quebec where private insurance was made legal… NO ONE BOUGHT ANY. The insurance company in question scrapped their offerings.  In fact right now the woman in that Ad can legally buy insurance in Canada right now, that will cover the costs of whisking her down to the Mayo Institute to deal with treatments not covered by Canadian Health Care.  So why didn't she do this?  In fact why don't most Americans get multiple insurance sources to help cover what their HMO won't?

That Landmark case…

Watch Sicko for a good comparison.”

Here in Australia we have healthcare pretty much the same as what it showed the British in that film experience. It's all paid for. There is no fear that if you break an arm, or acciently chop off a finger, that you will need to sell the house or your possesions to do it. If you are in between jobs and on the dole and have an accident, it's ok, it's covered.

If you have an accident, or need emergency treatment, the whole thing is free from the ambulance ride, to the surgery. What you don't get though is short waiting lists for complex procedures. If your life is being threatened, then it's done asap. But if you are after say a hip replacement etc. Then you go on the public waiting list. If you want it done asap, you can pay privately.

We don't have employer paid private health insurance schemes over here either. It's the individual that pays it. 

My Mum has cancer at the moment. She was working in aged care until a month ago where she was diagnosed. The diagnosis and all the immediate radiation and chemo is completely covered under our medicare system. If we lived in the states, she would need to sell the house. If everything goes ok, she will be a productive member of the community, paying taxes. Having Medicare cover the costs means there will be less stress and she will be a self funded retiree, not a drag on the welfare system upon retirement.


Sounded good right up until you mentioned those massive money-making quack remedies … radiation and chemotherapy. Basically they are a glass key. If you are lucky they work once and you may regain your health after the massive damage they do to you.  But you will have had to go on anti-biotics while your immune system has been damaged. So the next time you get cancer the anti-biotics are less likely to pull you through and the cancer will come on more virulent. Its a pity you have rejected reason or you might be able to do the research necessary to help your Mum. I was too late for my own Mother. 

Sucked into supporting Obama's healthcare on the wrong assumption that it will deliver a system like Canada's. Is there anything you people get right? Obamacare is about expanding the power the bigshots have over people by taking control of their medical options. Its another power grab. In the same way as the CO2-science fraud is all about rationing energy. 

Obama Health Care is completely unlike Canadian Health care.  This is understood.  And has been presented on radio up here in exactly that way.

Obamacare is about providing health care to people who can't afford it.  Its effectively a tax on people who can afford healthcare.  (Or am I missing something?)

It still costs more, and delivers less than the Canadian system.

On the plus side, Obamacare will provide health care to people who can't afford it.

If it was a Canadian health care system, Dole would be able to afford to go back to Hawaii and grow pineapples.  (Dole pulled out of Hawaii because Hawaii put a law on the books that all employers had to provide health care.  The cost of food production went through the roof.)

Obamacare is about providing health care to people who can't afford it.  Its effectively a tax on people who can afford healthcare.  (Or am I missing something?)”

Completely wrong. Its about defunding old person care, and limiting options, thus effectively putting the entire population, minus Senators and Congressmen, at the mercy of the medical monopoly. Its setting up a patronage system. Because to live you'll need to opt out somehow, so that you'll wind up needing to trade favours. Obamacare was invented by the son of a terrorist, and it was one of a number of trial balloons pushing to totalatarianism that were run prior to the emergence of the tea party, wherein a strategy of feigned normalcy was adopted and the pace of the wrecking crew slowed somewhat. 

OMG, bird brain has started infecting other posts with his right wing conspiracy paranoid delusional rubbish.

Mate, they are missing you back onthe Alex Jones blog. They are talking about the federal reserve right now! 


What a mega-sucker. You actually think the Federal Reserve ISN'T a conspiracy and a giant rip-off. You are actually being sarcastic about it. What a moron!!!!!! Not an economics sophisticate I can see. Never got further then Keynesian propaganda 101 I'm sure. Good Lord. Being a willing stooge as a way of life. The Gimp.  I myself am a field-slave trying to keep his head held high. 

You are the sucker mate. You just believe what you are told remember? Thats your epistemology. You go to Randi's internet sewer, where everyone is wetting their finger and poking it in the air to try and find out what is the point of view that everyone is labelling mainstream, and then you position your ass accordingly and with reference to that mainstream point of view.  Thats your whole epistemology.  That's why you are all suckers. The American medical system has been a giant ripoff since not too long after old man Rockefeller commissioned the Flexner report. Its a pity the poison spreads past the US borders.