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Arnold Ahlert / October 7, 2019

Sanders Received Much Better Healthcare Than What He Prescribes for Others

Congressional elites receive far better than the socialism some of them advocate.

Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders felt pains in his chest last Tuesday. “Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted,” stated senior adviser Jeff Weaver. Actually, it turned out to be a heart attack. Following that successful surgery, Sanders re-entered the political arena with a tweet. “Thanks for all the well wishes,” it stated. “I’m feeling good. I’m fortunate to have good health care and great doctors and nurses helping me to recover. None of us know when a medical emergency might affect us. And no one should fear going bankrupt if it occurs. Medicare for All!”

Sanders has a point. No one should have to fear going bankrupt to pay for a medical emergency. But who’s kidding whom? As a member of the Ruling Class, Sanders will never experience anything remotely resembling the trials and tribulations ordinary Americans endure, healthcare being among them.

Despite promises that Congress would receive the same healthcare as every other American when ObamaCare was implemented, leaders from both parties “quietly and gratefully accepted the special deal from the administration’s Office of Personnel Management,” The Hill reported in 2015. “It gives legislators and staff ‘Gold Level’ ObamaCare coverage with a 75 percent subsidy paid by taxpayers or even the option of opting out and retaining their previous heavily subsidized plan. The income of members and staff is simply not counted.”

Two years later, columnists John Malcolm and Michael F. Cannon further illuminated a double standard they deemed “illegal and egregious,” noting that Congress should have been kicked out of the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and lost that tax-free federal contribution of up to $12,000 toward their premiums, as soon as ObamaCare went into effect in 2010. Instead, the administration allowed Congress to remain in the program until 2014.

Yet even when they were finally ousted from FEHBP in 2014, Obama pressured the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to reverse its initial — and correct — interpretation of the law that forced Congress and its staffers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. Instead, Malcolm and Cannon explain, “OPM ruled Congress could both enroll in the District of Columbia’s small-business exchange and keep receiving the FEHBP premium contribution. D.C. officials played along by ignoring a D.C. law prohibiting participation in its small-business exchange by all but ‘employers with 50 or fewer … employees.”

In short, “ObamaCare for thee, but not for me” became the law(lessness) of the land, and Malcolm and Cannon made it clear exactly why. “Washington’s most powerful special interest group is Congress itself, and its members are more than happy to reach across the aisle when their personal interests are on the line,” they add.

Indeed. And if anyone thinks “Medicare for All” will be any different, they will only be right in one respect: It will make the American people even more miserable than they are under ObamaCare, even as Congress will remain wholly insulated from its “utopian” ambitions.

As the editorial board of Issues & Insights reminds us, within hours of experiencing chest pains, Sanders received his stents. What would have happened in government-run systems such as Canada or Great Britain? “A 1995 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that no patients needing an urgent coronary angiography test — used to reveal artery blockages — received one within 24 hours in Canada or the U.K., whereas 65% did in the U.S.,” the board reveals. “Nearly two-thirds of Canadians and 94% of Brits had to wait more than three days. The same study found that while 80% of urgent coronary bypass operations occurred within 24 hours in the U.S., only 24% did in Canada and 10% in the U.K.”

And if anyone thinks such delays have decreased since that study was published, think again. A 2016 Fraser Institute report revealed that Canadians who needed medically necessary surgery were waiting an average of 20 weeks before receiving it. Moreover, those times were determined by what the patient needed: those needing access to a medical oncologist waited only 3.7 weeks. Yet if one required neurosurgery, one endured an average waiting time of 46.9 weeks — as in nearly a year. In 2017, average wait times increased to 21.2 weeks before slightly dipping to 19.8 weeks last year. Reality check? Last year’s lower wait time was still 113% longer than in 1993.

What about the UK? “The NHS waiting list has hit another record high with almost 4.4 million people now waiting for routine treatment,” The Daily Mail reported in July. “For a third month running the figure has risen to a new high, increasing by a quarter of a million people between February and May alone. Other statistics also revealed by NHS England today show the number of A&E patients stuck on trolleys waiting for an inpatient bed has increased by 70 per cent in a year.”

And if Americans are enchanted by long wait times, they’ll be absolutely infatuated with another “feature” of government-run healthcare: rationing. “Since Canada legalised euthanasia in 2016, there have been at least 6,749 cases of medically assisted deaths, with over 803 dead in the first 6 months of legalisation,” reports. “2018 saw Canada’s euthanasia figures soar with over 3000 Canadians killed by their doctor.”

The UK is no better. “Did you know that hernia repair; hip or knee replacements; removal of cataracts, tonsils, haemorrhoids or a gallbladder; injections for back pain; and referral to specialised pain clinics are among the growing list of treatments that are no longer routinely funded by the NHS?” writes Dr. Zara Aziz. “As a GP in a large urban practice, over the last year I have seen unprecedented restrictions on primary care’s ability to access many of these treatments, and more, for patients.”

Bernie Sanders and his fellow members of Congress will never see restrictions on anything, much less experience rationing or unconscionable wait times. Nor will they be denied surgery if they are “undeserving,” such as the NHS’s decision to deny surgical treatment to patients unless they lose weight or quit smoking. And they will never ever be forced onto anything resembling the UK’s “Liverpool Care Pathway,” a euphemism used to obscure the reality that the cash-strapped system is incentivized to withhold even basic treatment such as fluids and food to patients they assume will die anyway — even when some of them don’t.

Here’s hoping Bernie fully recovers. But one is left to wonder when the senator would be as gung-ho regarding “Medicare for All!” if he actually had to experience it firsthand. Perhaps two or three days walking around with chest pains — like the overwhelming majority of Brits and Canadians are forced to do — might have “clarified” his thinking.

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