Fox's Baier falsely suggests Obama has cited Canada as possible health reform model

Bret Baier falsely suggested that President Obama has cited Canada's medical system as a “possible model” for his health care reform plan. In fact, Obama has explicitly rejected a Canadian-style health care system.

On the June 29 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier stated that “President Obama spent a good deal of time at that news conference [on June 23] talking about health care reform, and Canada's medical system has been cited as a possible model.” Correspondent Molly Line later stated during her subsequent report that “some in Washington” are “look[ing] north for ideas.” But neither Baier nor Line noted that Obama has explicitly rejected a Canadian-style health care system. Furthermore, Obama has also embraced the creation of a federally funded “public plan” as one of many insurance options available in the health care market, not the sole option, as in “single-payer” systems such as Canada.

According to the National Library of Medicine's Medical Subject Headings thesaurus, a "single-payer system" is defined as:

An approach to health care financing with only one source of money for paying health care providers. The scope may be national (the Canadian System), state-wide, or community-based. The payer may be a governmental unit or other entity such as an insurance company. The proposed advantages include administrative simplicity for patients and providers, and resulting significant savings in overhead costs.

In a June 2 letter to Senate Health Committee chairman Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Obama wrote: “I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest.” During a March 26 online town hall discussion, Obama was asked: “Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs rather than financial resources?” He replied, “I actually want a universal health care system,” adding that rather than adopting a “single-payer system” like Canada's, “what I think we should do is to build on the system that we have and fill some of these gaps.”

From the June 29 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BAIER: While the U.S. pursues a health care system, a public option with some similarities to Canada's socialized medicine, Canada may be going the other way.


BAIER: President Obama spent a good deal of time at that news conference talking about health care reform, and Canada's medical system has been cited as a possible model. But correspondent Molly Line reports that nation's government-run effort is facing some competition from the private sector.

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LINE: For 40 years, Canada's public health system has provided basic medical care for all on the simple premise that everyone be treated equally, regardless of financial status -- a socialistic approach to medicine now under siege. There is a shortage of doctors, and patients are saturating the system, resulting in long waits for some treatment, unless you're willing to pay. Private for-profit clinics are popping up across the country.

CHRISTINE CROSSMAN (Canadian patient): Any wait time was an enormous frustration for me, and also pain.

LINE: After injuring her hip and being told she could wait up to a year for an MRI, Christine Crossman turned to a private clinic.

CROSSMAN: No question, it was worth the money.

LINE: Health care delivery in Canada falls largely under provincial jurisdiction. Complicating matters, private for-profit clinics are permitted in some provinces and not allowed in others.

Under the Canada Health Act, privately run facilities cannot charge citizens for services covered by government insurance, but a Supreme Court ruling in Quebec opened the door for patients facing unreasonable wait times to pay out of pocket for private treatment.

Luc Boulay is a partner at St. Joseph MRI, a private clinic in Quebec that charges around $700 for most scans.

BOULAY: But I think there is a fundamental shift in different parts of the country that's beginning to happen. I think that people are beginning to realize that they should have a choice.

LINE: But advocates looking to preserve fairness believe private clinics undermine the very foundation of the country's health care system.

NATALIE MEHRA (Ontario Health Coalition): Private clinics don't actually produce one single new doctor, nurse, specialist. All they do is take the existing ones out of the public system, make the wait lines longer for everybody else, while people who can pay more and more and more money jump the queue for health care services.

LINE: Canada spends 3,600 per capita on health care, almost half of what is spent in the U.S. And while some in Washington look north for ideas, the Canadian system is still changing.

MICHAEL ORSINI (University of Ottawa): A mix of private and public seems to be favorable in some contexts. On the other hand, we need to be really careful that we're not treating health care the way we treat a value meal at McDonald's.

LINE: Driven by consumer demand for quick care, some fear the growth of a two-tiered system. Provincial governments face the difficult job of finding a balance, reducing wait times, and maintaining fair access without redefining the universal ideals at the core of Canada's health care system.

In Ottawa, Molly Line, Fox News.

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