Tags: stossel | special | spiked

ABC Pulls John Stossel's Canadian Healthcare Piece

Wednesday, 01 Jul 2009 12:11 PM

By Dave Eberhart

John Stossel, ABC News’ co-anchor of “20/20” and a New York Times best-selling author, likes to take a skeptical look at a wide array of issues, but hold the phone on his new healthcare special — it was pulled to make room for yet more coverage of Michael Jackson.

Bad break for Stossel, but nice timing for President Barack Obama, who was certainly not going to get a leg up on his own healthcare reform initiative on the back of Stossel’s hard-hitting show: “Canadian Health Care: The End of Innovation?”

Stossel’s original promo for his special clearly pointed to a no-prisoners approach to the hot-button issue.

“President Obama said that the government is going to ‘fix what is broken about healthcare in America.’ It sounds like a great idea, but often what sounds good has unintended consequences.

“When the government takes over, many critics say that you may not get the care and breakthroughs you need to save your life.

“‘The only way they can get costs down under a government-run system is to control the amount of money that is spent on healthcare,’ says Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, who was born in Canada, and is wary about government taking the reins of healthcare in the United States.

“‘We are going to have denied care, lack of access to the latest technology, and long waiting lists, just like people do in Canada and Great Britain,’ she warns.”

For sure, Stossel had some serious food for thought on tap for viewers, but it was not to be. In his blog, Stossel gives his take: “Of course, maybe my bosses made the wrong choice. Maybe more viewers would have tuned in for my . . . report. But the beauty of the market is that if they regularly choose wrong, they will go bankrupt. Networks better at giving the public what we want will take their business.

“I’d rather have viewers vote with their remotes than have elites govern our choices, making sure we watch ‘serious’ programming.

“Yes, I am sick of the coverage of Michael Jackson. I hate it that ABC didn’t run my piece. Free markets sometimes encourage pandering to the masses. I still say, bless the market. The good outweighs the bad.

“Free speech means rude obscenity and hate speech. I treasure free speech too.”

The dreaded theme of Stossel’s special seems to be: Take a good hard look at the Canadian system — because that’s what the United States seems bound and determined to replicate.

But viewers will just have to wait to see the special, and, perhaps, that waiting will be good practice for what’s to come. Some more notions from the shelved expose:

“‘People line up for care. Some of them die. That’s what happens,'" Dr. David Gratzer says of Canada’s healthcare system.

“Gratzer, a Canadian doctor, thought Canada’s government healthcare system was great — until he started treating patients.

“‘The more time I spent in the Canadian system — the more I came across people waiting for radiation therapy, waiting for the knee replacement so they could finally walk up to the second floor of their house,’” he explained.

“‘You want to see your neurologist because of your stress headache? No problem! You just have to wait six months,’ he continued. ‘You want an MRI? No problem! Free as the air. You’ve just got to wait six months.’”

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