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Tilting at Windmills

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March 8, 2010

PALIN ENDORSES CANADIAN-STYLE SOCIALIZED MEDICINE?.... Maybe she was kidding. Perhaps there's some elusive context that makes the remarks seem less remarkable. But at face value, it seems pretty amusing that Sarah Palin's family used to rely on Canada's health care system.

The former half-term Alaska governor was in Calgary over the weekend, and talked a bit about her family's history with the country.

"My first five years of life we spent in Skagway, Alaska, right there by Whitehorse. Believe it or not -- this was in the '60s -- we used to hustle on over the border for health care that we would receive in Whitehorse. I remember my brother, he burned his ankle in some little kid accident thing and my parents had to put him on a train and rush him over to Whitehorse and I think, isn't that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada."

Actually, yes, it is rather ironic. Palin now believes President Obama is trying to impose socialized-medicine, which would be dangerous for Americans in need of care. But Palin's wrong on both counts -- the White House plan isn't socialized-medicine, and the concept couldn't be too dangerous if it helped meet her own family's needs.

Universal health care: good enough for Palin's family, but not for yours?

Markos added, "Palin should reimburse Canada for the health care she stole without paying into their system."

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (45)

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It's also worth mentioning that Palin and her whole family, including Trig "Don't Kill my Baby, Death Panels!" Palin and Tripp Johnston, receive free healthcare due to Todd being part native Alaskan.

Posted by: shortstop on March 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, I thought Canadians were flocking to America for health coverage. Now I'm told that good Americans like the Palins go to Canada for health care??? Why would an American go to Canada for treatment? Don't they know it takes months to get in to see a doctor and receive second-rate treatment? Palin's family missed out on the Best Health Care System in the World intentionally?

My head is spinning.

Posted by: danimal on March 8, 2010 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

WTF? I thought Republicans were against non-citizens crossing over borders to get government-run health case?

Posted by: Eeyore on March 8, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

My, she is fond of receiving gifts and services without paying for them, isn't she?

Posted by: doubtful on March 8, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

I see your irony, and raise you...

Palin: ...my parents had to put him on a train...

Posted by: koreyel on March 8, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

What's with these non-thinkers like Palin who obviously haven't realized we are all the sum of our lifes' experiences.

If Canadian medicine worked for the Palin family of the 1960s, why is she condemning it today other than she has forgotten what makes sense! If I want to stop making sense, I'll listen to the live Talking Heads CD!

Good day Sarah, I said good day!-Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 8, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think Canada set up their system in the mid-60's. Should check to see what year her brother got treatment and when Canada adopted their Medicare system before you look foolish. Whitehorse may have been the closest town with a doctor. Not trying to defend the indefensible, but ...

Posted by: Th on March 8, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Her family was in Skagway. It was a stupid story for her to tell politically, but it's a non-starter and bad political discourse. Sorry.

Posted by: William K. Wolfrum on March 8, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I would definitely rely on Canadian health care for treatment of hypothermia or frost bite, because they have so much experience with it. For the same reason I would rely on French care for treatment of sexually transmitted deseases. Otherwise American health care is the best in the world.

Posted by: Al on March 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

This is more than just her taking something that isn't hers - this is her having direct personal experience that completely contradicts everything she says, and she's so unaware of the contradiction that she doesn't mind revealing it in an off-hand comment like this.

It's an entire time-space continuum of stupid collapsing upon itself into a singularity of infinitely dense stupid. It's a physical phenomenon that even the Large Hadron Collider wouldn't be able to produce. Truly astonishing.

Posted by: DH Walker on March 8, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Otherwise American health care is the best in the world.

Except for reduced life expectancy, higher infant mortality, high cost, gaps in coverage, and medical bankruptcies, it can't be beat.

Posted by: dr2chase on March 8, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

We Canadians are rather naive. It was only after the Ontario government recognized that there were more people registered for our Ontario Health Care system than there were residents of the province, that we realized many Americans were improperly registering. so we then had to invest in new photo id cards and other security measures- all in order to protect americans from suffering from exposure to our 30th ranked health care system.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on March 8, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK


On the third page it says the 10 provinces and two territories had implemented the 1957 national plan by 1961.

That does answer whether Whitehorse had pediatric services and Skagway did not, but it does settle that the care was in the national Canadian system.

Posted by: OKDem on March 8, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Al, that was awesome. One of your best.

Posted by: shortstop on March 8, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Skagway surely had a doctor and facilities to treat a childs burn and if not then Haines is just to the south and in the 60's was a logging boom town so they surely had a hospital capable of addressing most injuries. Living in Alaska is weird enough without this woman popping up everyday with another embarrassing statement. How about the "God wrote notes on his hand also too" statement from yesterday? A Republican pollster up here, Dave Dittman ,produced a poll last week that showed even here 83% of voters no longer consider her capable of being POTUS so that was heartening.

Posted by: bobatkinson on March 8, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

@ DH Walker

Love the analogy .

Posted by: John R on March 8, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

It was a stupid story for her to tell politically, but it's a non-starter and bad political discourse.

What crap. Your (poorly written and reasoned) argument is that because HC access was poor in Skagway, the Palins had to go over the border and help themselves to another system's healthcare. They could've gone to Juneau, you know -- even then, it was a bigger town than Whitehorse and would've taken less time to get to via boat than it took by train to get to Whitehorse.

So if it's all about "access" for you, late 1970s beard style guy, take note: Access is a hell of a lot worse for most Americans right now. It's not always about availability. It's far more often about ability to pay.

Posted by: Allen on March 8, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

you may have read too quickly- coverage for hospital care was in place by 1961, all physician services were not covered until 1972- but adoption was on a province by province basis- don't know when NWT/ Yukon were covered.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on March 8, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, what? She was born in 1964. She said this story happened in the 1960's. So she's what, 5 1/2 at the most, when she's thinking about things like irony, nationalism, and health care? What a precocious lil' tyke she must have been.

Posted by: BrendanInBoston on March 8, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sara proves that the Heath and Palin families are professional grifters.

Posted by: TomPaine on March 8, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK


Looking at the map (there's a link to one in the Calgary article), it appears that it would have been just as easy for them to have headed south to Juneau.

I'm not Alaskan, so there may be logistical considerations I'm not privy to, but the two towns seem equidistant from Skagway.

Here's the history per Wikipedia:

"In 1946, Tommy Douglas' Co-operative Commonwealth Federation government in Saskatchewan passed the Saskatchewan Hospitalization Act, which guaranteed free hospital care for much of the population. Douglas had hoped to provide universal health care, but the province did not have the money.

In 1950, Alberta created a program similar to Saskatchewan's. Alberta, however, created Medical Services (Alberta) Incorporated (MS(A)I) in 1948 to provide prepaid health services. This scheme eventually provided medical coverage to over 90% of the population.[30]

In 1957, the federal government passed the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act to fund 50% of the cost of such programs for any provincial government that adopted them. The HIDS Act outlined five conditions: public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, and accessibility. These remain the pillars of the Canada Health Act.

By 1961, all ten provinces had agreed to start HIDS Act programs. In Saskatchewan, the act meant that half of their current program would now be paid for by the federal government. Premier Woodrow Lloyd decided to use this freed money to extend the health coverage to also include physicians. Despite the sharp disagreement of the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons, Lloyd introduced the law in 1962 after defeating the Saskatchewan Doctors' Strike in July.

[edit] Medical Care Act
The Saskatchewan program proved a success and the federal government of Lester B. Pearson, pressured by the New Democratic Party (NDP) who held the balance of power, introduced the Medical Care Act in 1966 that extended the HIDS Act cost-sharing to allow each province to establish a universal health care plan. It also set up the Medicare system."

Although full coverage wasn't enacted until 1966, it seems that by 1961 most provinces already had many of the components that were made official in 1966.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 8, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

William K. Wolfrum: Assuming that a family in Skagway really didn't have access to decent medical facilities -- a big if; others have pointed out that the Palins had other options nearby in Alaska -- your "argument" goes something like this:

RIGHT: Grabbing free medical care from a system you haven't paid into and which isn't intended for people of your citizenship because you really need it.

WRONG: Reforming your own country's healthcare system so that the massive amounts we pay in can be used to a) insure the uninsured and b) bring down the jacked-up costs we all pay to provide ER care for the uninsured.

You guys really have no political philosophy other than "I want whatever I can get and I will work like a demon to make sure no one else's basic needs are met," do you? And you're absolutely wrong about the political usefulness of this story. It's exactly the sort of thing that loudly resonates with all but the 25% who will make excuses for anything Palin does or says and thus are too far gone to be reached. That apparently includes you, old boy.

Posted by: shortstop on March 8, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK


Thanks - we really all should salute Sarah Payday's advancements in the study of theoretical stupidity. It's possible that she'll make significant progress on the Unified Field Theory of Stupid ahead of the 2012 election, ushering in the end of the world as predicted by Mayan prophecy.

Posted by: DH Walker on March 8, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

So she's pretty much been a grifter all of her life?

Posted by: merl on March 8, 2010 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Not one single Republican will see the irony in this. Everything they do — from limiting government except for gays to insisting on a balanced budget unless they're in charge of it — is dripping with irony that they just can't grasp. A "Christian Nation" that must defeat religious extremists!

They're immune to irony.

Posted by: chrenson on March 8, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Palin on September 2008:

"... there’s been a lot of times that Todd and I have had to figure out how we were going to pay for health insurance. We’ve gone through periods of our life here with paying out of pocket for health coverage until Todd and I both landed a couple of good union jobs.

Early on in our marriage, we didn’t have health insurance, and we had to either make the choice of paying out of pocket for catastrophic coverage or just crossing our fingers, hoping that nobody would get hurt, nobody would get sick."

Posted by: Quiddity on March 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Palin should reimburse Canada for the health care she stole without paying into their system."

And don't forget the interest -- her family essentially borrowed that service (God forbid that they were stealing it!), so the loan should be repaid, with interest.

Now, I assume that if she were forced to do this, it'd be her parents (if they're still alive) that she would shove this obligation off onto, but that's life, eh?


Posted by: Ed Drone on March 8, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

That's not ironic; it's hypocritical.

Posted by: Steve Hager on March 8, 2010 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Al: Using that line of reasoning I'd trust the US health care system to treat a gunshot wounds for sure. Not much else, though.

Posted by: whiskey tango foxtrot on March 8, 2010 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

All of this would make a much better story if the current nationwide health care system Canada enjoys today were in place in the 1960s, but that is not at all clear since each individual province (or territoy in the case of the Yukon) controlled their health care back in those days. The story may still have legs, but it will take the type of RESEARCH that the right seems alergic to, but I had always supposed that liberals excel at.

Posted by: majun on March 8, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Given Sarah's lack of mental agility one has to doubt whether she makes any connection between her childhood reminicence and the sad state of American healthcare. In any case it was her parents' doing not hers. That Canada had a better healthcare system in Whitehorse, in the 1960s, not exactly an urban area then or now, than Alaska is probably too subtle a point for her to grasp.

Her handlers didn't have the leash on tight enough.

Posted by: rRRk1 on March 8, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Palin: "My first five years of life we spent in Skagway, Alaska"

Where's her birth certificate!?!?

Posted by: Deciding Decider of Decisions on March 8, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Palin likes to use Other People's Money.

Posted by: anomaly on March 8, 2010 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

[...] it was her parents' doing not hers. -- rRRk1, @15:34

True. It appears that a tendency to thieving/grift is encoded in her DNA. Who knew it was a genetic characteristic?

The poor dimwit was just trying to say something nice about/to her hosts. It's not her fault that the full import of what she was actually saying (beyond just the words of the moment) never registered with her...

Posted by: exlibra on March 8, 2010 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Glad to hear the years worked out. Hate to have a great story like this blow up because something didn't add up.

Posted by: Th on March 8, 2010 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin stands for Truthiness, Just Us and the Skag Way.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on March 8, 2010 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

People's lack of tolerance for nuance continues to blow my mind!

Posted by: Robert Morris on March 8, 2010 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Government funded health care existed in parts as Canada as early 1946, in Saskatchewan, followed by Alberta in 1950. In 1957 the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act which is really what the 1984 act really just reiterates, if thats what you refer to.

Posted by: eddy on March 9, 2010 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

As much as I dislike Sarah Palin, I note that there are alternative facts out there.

"Palin's father said Monday they had little choice [but to go to Canada on some occasions], given their location in Skagway. 'There was no road out of [where they were living] at that time,' said retired teacher Chuck Heath ... 'The ferry schedule was very erratic. We had no doctor in Skagway. The plane schedule was very erratic. The winds dictated whether the planes could come in or not.'"

And this: "And even though they [Canadians] have socialized medicine, I still had to pay the bill, being an American citizen."

Posted by: John Broughton on March 9, 2010 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

I concur with John. Despite my disdain for Sarah, I have to point out that rural interior Alaska was (and still is) a pretty remote place. If the nearest town of any size happened to be in Canada (Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory), the family could have either driven a couple of hours or waited for the next plane to Anchorage or Fairbanks.

Posted by: KTinOhio on March 9, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently it's still commonplace:


Posted by: Craig on March 9, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Canada did not have socialized medicine until the 1970s. I know because I was there. We had a system of provincially sponsored insurance programs that were entirely voluntary. I’m sure Ms. Palin’s father paid the full doctor’s fee for any visits just as Dad had to pay the full fee for a visit to a doctor in Washington State to treat my young brother for abdominal cramps during our trip across Canada in 1960. We had to go into Washington because there was no highway across one of the mountain ranges in British Columbia, which is when my brother began to complain. After about 1973, Medicare was federally mandated and administered by each province. During the 1960s this was a hot issue and was seen by many as a move towards Communism. I was in my early 20s then (1973) and I remember when I was confronted by an accountant at work about every month because I wouldn’t sign a consent form to have the premium deducted from my paycheck. When I went onto another full time job, the premium was deducted. For part time employees and those without a job, the province sends a monthly premium. Only Saskatchewan had fully socialized medicine before 1973. In 1946 the government was run by the CCF, a socialist movement with probable connections to the British Labour party back then. I read the introduction to its manifesto once, which said that the aim of the CCF was to do away with capitalism. (The Commonwealth Cooperative Federation (CCF) changed its name to New Democratic Party (NDP) during the 1960s.)

Posted by: Jay on March 11, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Palin was a child. It was her parents that had to go there because it was closest in an emergency. Her fater was an American and had to pay for the service. At that time there was no road to the hospital 112 miles away in America. Plane ( weather permiting) or long ride on ferry. So you left wing slobs, stop lying to try and make Sarah look bad.

Posted by: Richard on March 13, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

You Americans do not get free health care when you visit us in Canada. You did not get free Canadian health care in the 1960s, and you do not get free health care today.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Little Sarah's father would have had to pay for the hospital services in Whitehorse himself.

Posted by: Royston Lodge on March 18, 2010 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

There was a huge difference between the 1957 Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act and the 1984 Canada Health Act.

Prior to 1984, the federal government agreed to pay for 50% of a province's hospital costs (expanding to non-hospital health costs in 1966).

But that did not mean that Canadians HAD to use the government health insurance system in their province. If an individual chose to pay for their own health care, they were free to do so. They just paid the doctor directly instead of going through their province's health insurance system.

That changed in 1982 with the Canada Health Act, which made it illegal for any Canadian to pay directly for any service which is provided by a province's health insurance system.

This directly contradicts the original intentions of Tommy Douglas, who repeatedly stated that doctors shouldn't be forced to work through the government system, and that individual Canadians should be required to make some sort of co-payment because it would serve to remind them of the actual costs involved.

Posted by: Royston Lodge on March 18, 2010 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK



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