• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Newfoundland Premier Heads to USA for Surgery

danny-williamsA senior Canadian politician is heading to the USA for heart surgery.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is set to undergo heart surgery this week in the United States.

CBC News confirmed Monday that Williams, 60, left the province earlier in the day and will have surgery later in the week.

The premier’s office provided few details, beyond confirming that he would have heart surgery and saying that it was not necessarily a routine procedure.

Dale Franks provides the first reaction of many Americans:

So, nobody can do it in St. Johns or Mt. Pearl?  OK, maybe not.  I mean, it’s Newfoundland, for Cripes sake!  But, still, no room at a Halifax or or Moncton hospital, eh?  Nobody qualified to perform the procedure in Quebec, Montreal, Ottowa or Toronto?

How is it that the Canadian health care system is just fine for all the little people, but when a provincial premier hears the thump of mortality in his chest, it’s off to Cedars-Sinai,  Sloan-Kettering, or Mayo?

‘S’funny how that works, huh?

But don’t worry.  When we get our free health care down here in the US, everything will be tiddly.

My view has long been that I’d rather be poor and sick in Canada and rich and sick here.  And that remains the case.

But, having recently spent time visiting my dad in small town American hospitals, I’ve come to have a greater appreciation for just how much variation there is in quality of care even here.  While even our smaller hospitals are reasonably well equipped with state of the  art tools, the fact of the matter is that they’re not staffed with top notch physicians and specialists.

While I haven’t done the comparative research, my  guess is that patients needing highly specialized care would be better off at one of Montreal’s finest hospitals than the local regional hospital in most small American towns. But, yes, you’d be even better off at one of the world’s leading research hospitals in your area of need.  And almost all of those are in America.

We fund medical research very well here, through a combination of government grants and the expectation of handsome profits from development of leading edge techniques and medicines.  And our top doctors can make  princely wages, which not only attracts many of our best minds to medicine but even draws some of the most promising doctors from abroad to ply their trade here.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Brett says:

    How is it that the Canadian health care system is just fine for all the little people, but when a provincial premier hears the thump of mortality in his chest, it’s off to Cedars-Sinai, Sloan-Kettering, or Mayo?

    ‘S’funny how that works, huh?

    Only to an idiot who somehow thinks the care a well-to-do, prominent regional politician gets is representative of an entire health care system.

    While I haven’t done the comparative research, my guess is that patients needing highly specialized care would be better off at one of Montreal’s finest hospitals than the local regional hospital in most small American towns. But, yes, you’d be even better off at one of the world’s leading research hospitals in your area of need. And almost all of those are in America.

    For the most part. Keep one thing in mind – the US is considerably larger than Canada in terms of population and GDP (although not necessarily GDP per capita). There’s just a lot more doctors and money flowing around, which creates greater opportunities for specialization in a wider variety of fields (helped by having a whole list of clients who will pay top dollar for it).

    You do get some good specialist groups in Canada, though. The Shouldice Hernia Clinic is apparently very good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Brett says:

    That first part was aimed at Dale Franks, not you, James.

    P.S. I’ll bet the Labrador public insurance plan is covering the surgery.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Triumph says:

    Dale Franks provides the first reaction of many Americans:

    I really doubt this, since Franks weirdly claims:

    But don’t worry. When we get our free health care down here in the US, everything will be tiddly.

    I’ve never heard of this Franks character, but he is seriously misinformed about the health care legislation since the bills in Congress bear absolutely no resemblance to the Canadian system, nor do they offer “free health care” to anyone but the most poor (which, actually occurs now under medicaid).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. neil wilson says:

    If you assume that the BEST of the BEST health care is in the US then you can understand why a rich Canadian might come here.

    My question is why should the US taxpayer have a super expensive system for care that, on average, is worse than Canada’s?

    It seems we are subsidizing cheap medical care in Canada since Canada is allowed to avoid having the super expensive state of the art equipment and skills because the US already provides them.

    IF all the conservative arguments are true that Canadians come here when they are rich then it means that the US is providing a massive subsidy to the Canadian taxpayer.

    Why should the typical American want to continue to subsidize the typical Canadian?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Triumph says:

    It seems we are subsidizing cheap medical care in Canada since Canada is allowed to avoid having the super expensive state of the art equipment and skills because the US already provides them.

    Neil is on to something–the problem here is that we are letting foreigners use our medical facilities.

    This must be stopped.

    Same thing goes with all those Haitians for whom Obama is actually providing free transport to America and free health care.

    The whole thing seems part of Obama’s effort to undermine America by actively supporting illegal immigration.

    Keep these freeloading Haitians and Canadians out of our system. We don’t pay taxes to subsidize they countries’ failures.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. neil wilson says:

    “Keep these freeloading Haitians and Canadians out of our system. We don’t pay taxes to subsidize they countries’ failures.”

    Always nice when people create absurd straw men.

    We are allowing Haitians into our system KNOWING that we are providing those poor, needy people with health care. Yes, it increasing our health care costs. Is it a good thing? I think it is a good thing. I will allow you to make your own judgments.

    We are letting rich Canadians into our system at reduced rates. I think that is a bad thing.

    Maybe using drugs would be an easier example.

    A drug company spends $100MM on creating a drug. They want to get $200MM in revenue. It costs them virtually nothing to produce the drug. They would like to sell $20MM to the Canadians and $180MM to the Americans. The US is about 9 times as big.

    However, Canada says they will only pay $10MM for the drugs. Take it or leave it. Since it cost the company nothing to produce then they agree to take $10MM from Canada. Now they need to charge more in America in order to make the desired profit.

    The net result is that the US citizens just gave the Canadians a $10MM gift. I think this is bad for the US.

    Why do you think the US should continue to subsidize Canada, the EU and Japan???

    It won’t cost the company much at all to give the drugs away in Haiti for free.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. ggr says:

    However, Canada says they will only pay $10MM for the drugs. Take it or leave it. Since it cost the company nothing to produce then they agree to take $10MM from Canada. Now they need to charge more in America in order to make the desired profit.

    The net result is that the US citizens just gave the Canadians a $10MM gift. I think this is bad for the US.

    Why do you think the US should continue to subsidize Canada, the EU and Japan???

    In effect that’s the way free enterprise works, and the way its supposed to work. You make a product, people decide how much they’re willing to pay for it. Then you decide if its worth selling it to them at that price.

    So long as the companies have the choice of not selling for the $10 million there’s no problem.

    And yes, its actually a pretty good system for a small country to send its citizens to a different country for exceptional treatment, rather than to try to maintain very expensive equipment and personnel that aren’t often used. Its the same reason every small town doesn’t have the equivalent of the Mayo clinic.

    It’s also a good system for the bigger country, as it brings in more outside money to use that expensive setup.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Triumph says:

    Maybe using drugs would be an easier example.

    I always find that using drugs makes things easier.

    A drug company spends $100MM on creating a drug. They want to get $200MM in revenue. It costs them virtually nothing to produce the drug. They would like to sell $20MM to the Canadians and $180MM to the Americans. The US is about 9 times as big.

    However, Canada says they will only pay $10MM for the drugs. Take it or leave it. Since it cost the company nothing to produce then they agree to take $10MM from Canada. Now they need to charge more in America in order to make the desired profit.

    The net result is that the US citizens just gave the Canadians a $10MM gift. I think this is bad for the US.

    You must have taken drugs when you concocted this example since it is not based on anything approximating reality.

    Drug companies don’t negotiate with “the United States” or “Canada,” but with insurers of which there are thousands all over the world. Even in Canada there is no unitary insurer.

    Insurers get the best price they can from the drug companies–it is not a zero-sum game. Different insurance plans within the US negotiate different rates from the drug companies.

    So under your logic if I am getting a lower price from Blue Cross and you have to pay a higher price for the same drug through Humana, you apparently are “subsidizing” me?!?

    Its not a subsidy–rather, it is how the market works. Buyers and sellers negotiate on prices. It is a fundamental tenet of capitalism. It happens in virtually every industry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. floyd says:

    What ever the argument, it is simply better to be a free sage on a wide open stage than a gelded page in a gilded cage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. neil wilson says:

    On drugs.

    Name a single product, other than prescription drugs, where it is cheaper to send the item made in the USA to Canada and then send it back to the USA!!!!

    Software is pretty similar. High design costs. Low manufacturing costs.

    Now, tell me why this is they way the free market works?????

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. The Q says:

    By the way, most basic research for new drugs is financed by you and me..the American taxpayer…half of all the commercial drugs now on the market were intially “produced/invented/discovered” in the labs of the University of California medical research facilities.

    For profit companies cherry pick the most promising research then commercialize it.

    Anyone ever been to La Jolla or north county San Diego..the cluster concept ala Michael Porter?

    This whole argument about the “free market” of drug companies and insurance companies is total horse manure.

    Government spends tens of billions of dollars in basic R & D which is a subsidy to the giant pharma companies.

    As proof, go to the Nobel Prize site and look at the past laureates of the medical prize and you will see that 97% of them come from academia.

    Very rarely will you see something like “Dr. X of Pfizer won the Nobel Prize today for his pioneering work etc.

    Rather, its always, Dr X of MIT or University of California at San Diego or Stanford etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Triumph says:

    Name a single product, other than prescription drugs, where it is cheaper to send the item made in the USA to Canada and then send it back to the USA!!!!

    Seriously, dude! Get some basic facts under your belt. What “drug” are you talking about?

    Drugs–like all commodities–are manufactured all over the place in our globalized economy.

    Many of the prescription drugs & pharmeceuticals used in the US are manufactured in China and India. Canadians also get their drugs from all over the world.

    All of the big phramaceutical firms have manufacturing plants throughout the globe. The generics are increasingly being manufactured in China & India.

    Please, talk sense!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. just me says:

    Actually-Canada does have price controls on drugs. They set a specific price at which the drug tops out and it can’t go any higher.

    Also, some drugs-especially the newer ones often aren’t available in Canada. I know several years back Concerta (a time release ADHD drug) wasn’t available at all in Canada for any price-but that was a good 7 or so years ago-so it may be now. But my point is that often countries like Canada or the UK do no make the cutting edge drugs available because of their costs (some companies just choose to not market for what they will recoup).

    So the US market really does subsidize a lot of drugs in other countries. Once a drug hits the point where patents run out or are close to running out, they become cheaper, and once generics are on the market they become even more cheap.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. neil wilson says:

    “All of the big pharmaceutical firms have manufacturing plants throughout the globe. The generics are increasingly being manufactured in China & India. ”

    Whatever you say.

    Name a product, other than PRESCRIPTION drugs, that are cheaper in every other country in the world than they are in the USA!!!!

    OK, I don’t care where the product was developed. I don’t care where the product was made. I don’t care about how much it cost to make.

    Most everything is cheaper in the US than it is in Japan, Europe and Canada.

    Name another product and another set of countries that where ‘RE-IMPORTING’ is even considered!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. just me says:

    You don’t care where it is made? Furniture is much cheaper in the Caribbean and much higher quality. If my husband had a way to bring it home he would have purchased an solid mahogany dining room when he was on one of the Islands. The cost was about $500-you couldn’t buy anything solid wood in the US for that much less an entire dining room suit.

    I am sure there are others-but you only wanted 1.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. neil wilson says:

    Just Me

    I said “EVERY” other country. I assume virtually everything is cheaper in China and other poor countries.

    Another request I made
    Name another product and another set of countries that where ‘RE-IMPORTING’ is even considered!!!

    The answer is ONLY prescription drugs. Generics are often cheaper here than in Japan, Canada and Europe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Triumph says:

    Actually-Canada does have price controls on drugs. They set a specific price at which the drug tops out and it can’t go any higher.

    This is only for drugs still under patent. Even with the price cap, however, negotiations with the insurance companies still go on.

    Neil, baby, I still have no idea what you’re talking about.

    You seemed not to believe that generics are made in India & China which shows you have no idea about the drug industry or international commerce.

    Do a google search for “Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Company” for an example.

    I used to work with them on some trade litigation.

    They are one of the few Chinese drug manufacturers that are actually FDA-approved.

    Of course, I wouldn’t take solace in FDA approval of foreign drug manufacturers since there is little actual oversight. I’m not sure if Obama has turned it around, but during Bush the FDA’s approach was to grant approval for Indian and Chinese imports and only have cursory inspections.

    The guys at Zhejiang Huahai are pretty good, though. They do work for some of the big companies like Pfizer. So when you need to pop your next round of viracept, don’t worry–the Chinese have you covered.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. neil wilson says:

    Triumph:

    Do you understand the difference between generic and prescription drugs?

    Generics are often cheaper in the US than Canada but no one is saying that we should re-import generics.

    Prescription drugs are the drugs where the US is subsidizing the rest of the first world.

    Prescription drugs are the only category where things are more expensive in the US than they are in Canada, Japan and Europe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0