Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Cuban Side of the Health Care Story

Since I began the day dealing with the authenticity of the cardboard steamed bun story from China, it is only fair to point out that there is now a question of authenticity regarding Michael Moore's trip to Cuba in search of quality health care. It turns out that Jocelyn Noveck's report for Associated Press on the quality health care that 9/11 workers received in Cuba (as documented in Moore's film SiCKO) may have been a bit more susceptible to Moore's bias than her readers would have anticipated. Writing for Reuters, Anthony Boadle has now pulled together a version from the point of view of the physicians who attended to those workers. This version does not question the quality of the medical care provided. However, it also introduces a new point of view:

Communist Cuba's universal free health system has achieved low child mortality and high longevity rates on a par with rich nations since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.

But the hospital where SiCKO's patients were treated is an exception in Cuba, where patients of many other hospitals complain they have to take their own sheets and food.

There is something about that last sentence that resonates with Communist ideology, leaving me to wonder whether it is possible to have health care without either of the ghosts of the capitalist profit motive or the everyone-pulls-their-own of Communism. For all my skepticism about hospitals, I would hate to think that I would have to be responsible for my own sheet laundry while I am being treated; and, while we all have our favorite jokes about hospital food, during my last surgery I certainly did not want to question the judgment of an on-staff dietician in matters of what I would consume during my first 48 hours out from under the knife. My guess is that, as I previously suggested, Cuba saw an advantageous opportunity in playing Moore's rhetorical game; but, at the end of the day, scoring points in rhetoric is not going to fix a broken health care system.

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