Levin's Swedish anecdote freak-out falls flat

Blog ››› ››› KEVIN ZIEBER

Mark Levin is not one to let a good chance to attack Democrats go to waste, and one man's frustration with his hour-long wait for emergency care in Sweden is no exception. According to a recent report that was flagged by Drudge, the hapless Swede in question waited in a hospital for an hour for stitches before electing instead to take the needle and suture into his own hands and stitch himself up. Levin leapt to trumpet the incident as demonstrable proof that in countries with universal health care unbearably long waits and lines leave citizens with the two equally unappealing options of either sewing oneself up or waiting for hours on end for shoddy care, holding this case out as a harbinger of our imminent government-run health care nightmare by calling it "our future."

Levin suggested that an hour-long hospital wait like the Swede's was something that, thanks to capitalism, would never happen in our private system. While reading a story about the Swede, he commented, "'While Jonas admitted to the newspaper that he has no prior experience of sewing up himself' -- Although we all better get ready for that, so you may want to practice." Levin concluded: "Here we go, right? Pull your own teeth, sew yourself up, remove your own kidney. Can't wait."

The true disparity between the Swedish socialist machine and our streamlined conveyor belt of care, however, was inexplicably omitted from Levin's show. He made no mention of the fact that a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the average emergency room wait time in the United States is actually 56 minutes, up from 47 minutes in 2004 and 38 minutes in 1997. That's right, despite Levin's bloviating on the ills of Swedish government-run health care, Americans on average are already subject to a wait similar to the one to which the Swede was subjected.

Kevin Zieber is an intern at Media Matters for America

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