(Healthcare Debate 2007 - Australian for slugfest)
How the rest of the world views Health Care is pretty enlightening. If you get past the notion that the rest of the world thinks we're pretty strange, and that they are actually several years, if not decades ahead of us in the minutiae of Health issues.
During the 2007 elections in Australia, where Labor (center-Left) swept to power after an 11-year run with the Liberal Party (center-Right) falling out of favor with the electorate. I managed to run across a debate regarding the state of Health Care Down Under from October 31, 2007.
Special thanks to my colleague NonnyMouse, who steered me in several right directions in trying to sort out the issues.
This debate, which almost didn't happen, features Shadow Health Minister Nicola Roxon and incumbent Liberal Health Minister Tony Abbott. Abbott, it appeared, had finished delivering a series of Mea Culpas earlier in the day over a remark he made regarding an Asbestos related Cancer sufferer whom he chided for "publicity seeking".
After a 30 minute delay, Abbott appeared in the studio and the debate picked up.
Nicola Roxon (Labor Party): “The future challenges that are facing our health system are significant. We have a growing burden of chronic disease, we have an ageing population, we know that there are increasing costs of new technologies, and there is waste and inefficiency generated by the buck-passing and blame shifting that characterizes Commonwealth/State relations. Honestly, if the Commonwealth/State relationship were a marriage, the partners would be in counseling, the states would be seeking maintenance payment in the courts, and the parties would both have a strong case for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty.”
Tony Abbott (Liberal Party): “The idea that the Prime Minister could personally run the public hospital system is bizarre. And only in a slightly surreal political contest could Kevin Rudd (Labor PM candidate) have got away with making this bizarre claim. But someone does have to be in charge, that’s absolutely essential. And that person should be responsible to and accountable to local people. Now I think every public hospital should have boards. I don’t say the public hospitals would work perfectly if they had boards, but I tell you what, they’d work a lot better if they had boards, particularly if they had boards with doctors and nurses and former patients on them. The Government will be announcing a major public hospital policy in the next week or so. The details will be revealed then. But I certainly think that every hospital should have a board, and you’ll see what the Governments precise policy is in just a week or so.”
Roxon: “Well, I think the Minister has shown that he really hasn’t got a clear plan at all for what these local boards will deliver for Public Hospitals. In fact, we spent quite a bit of the time on the phone yesterday dealing with the problems that the Minister has created in the takeover with the Mersey Hospital. I’m sure the Minister didn’t particularly want to talk with me, but the Caretaker Conventions require that he does, although he doesn’t need my agreement.”
After the debate it got nasty.
You may wonder why I am including this. It's another country with an established Public Healthcare system (in addition to a private one), and these issues may seemingly not apply to us. The deal is - Every country in the world has some form of Universal Healthcare and we are the only ones on the planet resisting it, mostly out of ignorance or fear brought on by interests not working on behalf of the people they are entrusted to care. To witness other debates from other places, and hear how problems are being solved from other perspectives casts a more informative light on the argument at hand.
And it doesn't hurt to know what other people are doing about it.