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Tilting at Windmills

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August 15, 2009

BRITS FEEL 'DUPED' BY U.S. CONSERVATIVE GROUP.... Rick Scott's Conservatives for Patients' Rights (CPR), a rather sleazy outfit trying to rally opposition to health care reform, is airing commercials featuring criticism of England's NHS from two British women with bad experiences within the system.

The women, Kate Spall and Katie Brickell, aren't happy with the developments, and believe their words have been twisted by the far-right group. (via Atrios)

Ms Spall and Ms Brickell both agreed to appear in a documentary on healthcare reform. But neither knew that the footage would be used as part of a TV advertising campaign carried on US networks.

Ms Spall, whose mother died of kidney cancer while waiting for treatment in the UK, told The Times: 'It has been a bit of a nightmare. It was a real test of my naivety. I am a very trusting person and for me it has been a big lesson. I feel like I was duped.'

Although standing by her views, Ms Spall said she was horrified by how the CPR had used her words.

'What I said is what I believe, and I stand by it, but the context it has been used in is something I was not aware would happen,' she said. 'The irony is that I campaign for exactly the people that socialised healthcare supports. I would not align myself with this group at all.'

Ms Brickell, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer after being refused a smear test because she was too young, said her words had been 'skewed out of proportion' by the CPR.

She told The Times: 'The NHS let me down and I just wanted to make the point that people should not rely solely on it. But what I said has been skewed out of proportion... My point was not that the NHS shouldn't exist or that it was a bad thing. I think that our health service is not perfect but to get better it needs more public money, not less. I didn't realise it was having such a political impact.'

The larger point, which apparently needs to be repeated, is that Democratic reform proposals would not create a British system. The comparison doesn't make sense in any substantive way. Whether the NHS is extraordinary or dysfunctional is important, but in no way relevant to the ongoing American debate.

But if conservative activists are going to talk about the British system, and quote British citizens, the least they should do is be honest and fair. It is, apparently, too much to ask.

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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It should be noted, also, that kidney cancer is even now incurable. I should know...my cousin died of it 10 years ago at age 38, having first been diagnosed about 3 or 4 years previously and having had the affected kidney removed at that time. When it came back, all that was available for treatment was an experimental chemo regimen which alas also proved ineffective. I don't know enough about this specific case to judge whether or not the "treatment denied" to this woman's mother would have made any difference or not - if she was denied prompt treatment for removal of a cancerous kidney it probably did have an impact on the length of her life...but if it was a recurrence, probably not because there simply is not an effective treatment for it beyond removal of the cancerous kidney. And you can only lose one of those and go on living - if it's in both, or recurs in the remaining kidney, it's a death sentence no matter what medical intervention is done.

Posted by: Jennifer on August 15, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Every time one of the opponents of health reform (or the proponents of 18,000 uninsured people dying early every year) start blustering about "nationalized health care" or "socialized health care" the journalist interviewing them should pause the interview to ask them to define those terms. And then the journalist should ask the opponents to point out where in the proposed bills are provisions that would bring about "nationalization" or "socialization".

Unfortunately, there just aren't many "journalists" on the air right now.

Posted by: SteveT on August 15, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

"the least they should do is be honest and fair" - I'm assuming you're joking!

"It is, apparently, too much to ask" - Absolutely, YES it is!

Posted by: Mark-NC on August 15, 2009 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm in the fight on the side of strong health insurance reform, but this--

"...the least they should do is be honest and fair. It is, apparently, too much to ask."

--is more than naive.

Posted by: converse on August 15, 2009 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't some Progressive group ask the women to be in a commercial to say what they say here? Health care reform is not being derailed, but smothered under a blanket of noise like Rick Scott's freakish commercials and cable news appearances.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on August 15, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

There is an excellent article on DU right now entitled 'The sad state of healthcare in the US' I would ask that everyone read it and if possible send a copy to all senators, it was written for a UK newspaper (since the repubs are demonising the UK system) No one in the US should be kept in the dark about this.

Posted by: JS on August 15, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Honest and fair"? Who, exactly, is it you think you're talking about?

Posted by: dp on August 15, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Jennifer-----Kidney cancer is now treatable, and has much better survival rate than 10 years ago. Just thought you might want to know. Oh yeah, the best treatment for it.... invented in the USA, not Great Britain.

Posted by: John on August 15, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Rick Scott's political game is the same as the simians in any zoo. To attract attention while causing great confusion, apes will throw their fecal matter upon the unassuming visitors who are then in turn seen by innocents who by wanting to see what the commotion is all about, merely get in the line of fire themselves.

Me thinks Rick Scott has the same more worth as a discarded cigarette but lying in a mucky drain gutter! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on August 15, 2009 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

John - Before you go high-fiving the awesome US health system for curing kidney cancer, do your homework. From Wiki: "For those that have tumor recurrence after surgery, the prognosis is generally poor. Renal cell carcinoma does not generally respond to chemotherapy or radiation. Immunotherapy, which attempts to induce the body to attack the remaining cancer cells, has shown promise. Recent trials are testing newer agents, though the current complete remission rate with these approaches are still low, around 12-20% in most series.[citation needed]"

In other words, recurrent kidney cancer is still almost always a death sentence and no, it still isn't reliably "treatable" with any particular proven regimen beyond surgery. Have a few things been found in the past 10 years that seem to help some people survive longer? Yes, but pretty much the same can be said for most illnesses. There still isn't a cure and metastisized kidney cancer remains one of the more deadly forms of cancer thanks to resistance to chemo and radiation.

Your best chance of surviving kidney cancer, in the US or the UK, is surgical removal when the original tumor is under 4 cm in size and localized to the kidney itself. Then you've got a 90% chance of living at least another 5 years. Remove any of those conditions and the five-year survival rate drops to 60%; if it spreads to the lymph nodes, 5 year survival drops to 5% - 15%.

Posted by: Jennifer on August 15, 2009 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Misery loves company


and those Brits have lots of company...We call them Dick Armey's Teabaggers and the insurance companies make sure we know who they are

I don't know why the K St Project in exile didn't pick on FRANCE this time

They have universal health care too,,,or Switzerland or Taiwan or Singapore or Germany or Japan or Korea

They all can afford affordable health care but not the USA

Go figger

Posted by: John C Mccutchen on August 15, 2009 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why the K St Project in exile didn't pick on FRANCE this time

Because Britain's system is the most vulnerable to criticism at this point, and it's because, as one of these women clearly states, Britain is not spending ENOUGH on the system. Not because of the system. Britain spends significantly less public money on health care than other developed countries, but they could probably stand to spend a bit more.

Meanwhile, we spend more public money than anyone else...yes, really, and our outcomes are not any better. Try getting kidney cancer with the usual commercial insurance policy and see how much "experimental" treatment they're willing to fund after that cancer recurs.

Posted by: Julia Grey on August 15, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Try getting kidney cancer with the usual commercial insurance policy and see how much "experimental" treatment they're willing to fund after that cancer recurs.

Julia Grey makes a good point, and I should have mentioned that my cousin only got experimental treatment because he participated in a university study, which provided the treatment free for the guinea pigs who volunteered to serve as subjects. To participate in the trial, my cousin made a 350 mile trip (one-way) every couple of weeks for the last 8 months of his life, so you could argue that it wasn't exactly "free" to a guy with 8 months (and less) to live. I'm not really outraged by that; it's the nature of medical trials that they aren't going to take place in every local hospital. But the point is, he got treatment he wouldn't have gotten if he had to rely on an insurer to pay for it, and since they still haven't found a reliable treatment for the disease, the people getting experimental treatment now are getting it the same way my cousin got it.

Posted by: Jennifer on August 15, 2009 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

First: "The larger point, which apparently needs to be repeated, is that Democratic reform proposals would not create a British system."

Over the past two weeks, I've come to start asking: "WHY NOT?"

So far as I can tell, NHS is incredibly popular in Britain, has a very good record, and has very good outcomes. You can find horror stories anywhere, but by and large, even the "horror stories" dug up about the NHS seem to be cautionary tales for GREATER involvement by NHS, not less. As seen here.

For the kidney cancer debate: My father was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2006. Actually, he was first diagnosed with kidney stones, which delayed treatment of the cancer because his insurance company was not willing to pay for more expensive tests with the "perfectly reasonable" diagnosis of kidney stones on the table. It wasn't until they found that there just weren't any kidney stones in there to be causing the shadows on the X-ray and intense pain, a month later, that they started treating this as cancer. By then it was Stage 4.

We did experimental treatments, and it cost us out of pocket all the way. Eventually we found the cancer had spread into his brain and he was kicked off the experiments (no longer in the target demographic). The insurance company would not pay for anything beyond symptomatic treatments and comfort measures. The last four months of his life were painful, for him and for us.

This, as you might guess, all happened in the "best healthcare system in the world" - right here in the US.

Posted by: Tom Dibble on August 15, 2009 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

The main argument in favor of universal coverage is that no country who ever enacted one had to repeal it. Even Margaret Thatcher did not touch NHS. Right now in Europe there are many conservative governments: Sarkozy, Merkel, Berlusconi et al. Noone has campaigned against its country's health system. I would like to hear FoxNews explaining this fact.

Posted by: alain on August 16, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

I always smile a little sourly when the Euros get a taste of the American Republican tactics. They mock us or are confused by the state of our politics, but their politicians just don't play like ours do. Let's see them fight back against these tactics themselves.

Posted by: MNPundit on August 17, 2009 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

These folks shouldn't feel too bad. Conservatives have been duping Americans for decades.

Posted by: Aredee on August 17, 2009 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK



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