A couple days ago, Senator Ron Johnson -- yet another in the Badger State's seemingly inexhaustible supply of ill-informed Randian fundamentalists -- wrote a ludicrously bad Wall Street Journal op-ed about how the Affordable care Act would have killed his daughter if it were in effect when she had life-saving surgery. I tried, with limited success, to capture the sheer vacuity of Johnson's argument. Now Igor Volsky piles on. Johnson had argued, without evidence, that the Affordable Care Act would prevent his daughter's procedure, which he attributed to the unique free market genius of American health care. Volsky points out:
America has certainly had its share of medical breakthroughs, but the procedure Johnson’s daughter received may not have been developed in the United States but rather in Brazil or France — nations that now benefit from some form of universal coverage.
According to CAP Senior Fellow (and resident biochemist) Dr. Lesley Russell, it is most likely that the surgery Carey had was first performed and reported in Brazil in 1975, where doctors described their version of the procedure as “the first successful report of total correction of transposition of the great vessels at the arterial level.” Alternatively, Johnson’s daughter may have had what’s known as The LeCompte procedure, which was developed in France in 1981.
Unfortunately for Johnson, both country’s systems seem far more government-centered than the Affordable Care Act. While Brazil’s system has evolved over time, France — which is often thought to have the best system in the world — has compulsory health insurance. Care is distributed through large occupation-based funds—alliances of professional groups—that are overseen by the government (it sets reimbursement fees with physicians and establishes premiums) and financed through taxes and general government revenues.