Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Socialized Medicine, Anyone?

Last Sunday the Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi died peacefully in Trip0li, Libya.

Three years ago the British government released al-Megrahi from prison on the grounds that he had only three months to live. It was called a “compassionate” release, though it seems to have been part of a more complex commercial negotiation.

Apparently, the Obama administration allowed the release to happen. Smart diplomacy they called it, but it looked a lot like appeasement.

Since al-Megrahi’s release and hero’s welcome in Libya, more than a few people have wondered how it could happen that a man who had been given three months to live managed to hold on for three years.

Today, the Wall Street Journal discovered that it is not as mysterious as we had thought.

If al-Megrahi had remained in a Scottish prison and had received the standard care offered by the British National Health Service, he would not have survived for much more than three months.

In Libya, however, he was treated with the latest cancer medication, medication that is commonly used in the United States and most advanced countries. As a result, he enjoyed three more years of life.

The Journal explains:

Karol Sikora, a leading cancer specialist who examined Megrahi shortly before his release, explains that predicting how long a patient with end-stage prostate cancer has to live is "a value judgment of probability," not an exact science. But Dr. Sikora also writes that his initial three-month prognosis was "based on his treatment as an NHS patient in Glasgow at the time, when not even standard docetaxel chemotherapy was offered." By contrast, "Mr. Megrahi almost certainly had excellent care in Tripoli."

Treatments that are standard in America are not allowed in Great Britain, unless you can pay for them yourself.

Socialized medicine means one standard of care for the 99% and another for the 1%.

Docetaxel chemotherapy is not the only treatment that the British National Health Service refuses to pay for.

The Daily Mail reported that it had refused to pay for Avastin, the most effective treatment of colon cancer, and Nexavar, which extends the life of liver cancer patients.

Unsurprisingly, these facts make Paul Krugman, again, look like a fool.

Remember Krugman’s oft-quoted statement:

“In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We've all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false."

As you know, Krugman presents his opinions as though they are incontrovertible facts. Often it happens that they are a rank distortion, bordering on falsehood.

We should always doubt people who believe that theirs is the only correct opinion. It’s a sign of intellectual arrogance, not judicious reasoning.

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