Discussing the debate over health care reform, the Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown uncritically highlighted a misleading ad by Conservatives for Patients' Rights, providing conservatives with yet another platform to attack progressive health care reform.
In a May 3 Politico article, reporter Carrie Budoff Brown wrote that Conservatives for Patients' Rights (CPR) "releas[ed] a 60-second spot featuring Dr. Brian Day, a past president of the Canadian Medical Association, describing how patients in the country are 'languishing and suffering on waiting lists.' " She added: "Expect to see Day lobbying members of Congress -- and many more stories from both sides in the weeks to come." However, Budoff Brown did not mention that Day has said he favors the health care systems of several Western European countries, not the current U.S. system of health care, as her Politico colleague Ben Smith has previously noted.
In an April 27 Politico blog post, Smith reported that, during an October 9, 2008, interview with the Fraser Institute, Day stated: "I think this is what people tend to forget. They equate alternatives to the Canadian health care system with 'Americanization,' which is not what we're talking about. We're talking about countries like Belgium, and Switzerland, and France, and Austria." In an October 22, 2007, op-ed for Canada's National Post newspaper, Day similarly wrote that "the goal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) -- of which I am President -- is to help improve our universal system, not destroy it." Day went on to note in the op-ed that he is not in favor of the U.S. system:
Let me be clear: I am not for an American-style system in Canada.
It is true that I believe in competition. But not the type of unhealthy competition that seems to exist between Canada and the United States in health care. As two of the world's richest countries, we seem to be in a race to the bottom when it comes to health. Canada's health system has been ranked 30th by the World Health Organization, and the U.S. was ranked 37th. Why would anyone copy a system that ranks substantially below ours?
From Budoff Brown's May 3 article, "The five faces to watch for in debate over care":
The Storyteller: Jane Doe
Health care is about to enter the heart-tugging phase.
Groups on the right and left have been quietly building arsenals of narrators -- people who can sear the American conscience with personal stories.
The American Cancer Society collects cases through a call center in Texas. The SEIU gathers stories by congressional district. And Conservatives for Patients' Rights, an organization poised to oppose the Obama plan, sent a former CNN reporter to Britain and Canada to produce a documentary on outrages in the European system that critics claim the White House plan will mimic.
The last major health care reform effort in the 1990s was defined by Harry and Louise, the fictional middle-class couple featured in an insurance industry ad. And an extraordinarily complex bill went down amid a flurry of 30-second ads.
Given the fragmented media environment, a singular TV ad may not hold as much sway as it did in the early '90s. But that doesn't mean either side plans to pass up the tool.
Conservatives for Patients' Rights was the first to use it, releasing a 60-second spot featuring Dr. Brian Day, a past president of the Canadian Medical Association, describing how patients in the country are "languishing and suffering on waiting lists."
Expect to see Day lobbying members of Congress -- and many more stories from both sides in the weeks to come.