Bucks County Herald

Charles Meredith:

Why can’t we learn from Australia?


Dear Friends,

Good morning. The other day I read that President Trump claimed that Australia’s health care was better and cheaper than ours.

Because I’m accustomed to discovering that President Trump lives by his own version of reality, I assumed that he was wrong as usual. It turns out that he was right and I was wrong.

I did some research about the quality and cost of health care in America versus Australia and the rest of the world. I knew that the money we spend on health care is among the highest of the industrialized nations (maybe the highest). One sixth of America’s economy is driven by health care.

Most of us assume that the quality of health care in America leads the world. The medical centers at Doylestown Hospital, Grandview Hospital, and St. Luke’s University Medical Center are among the best in this region. And the medical centers of Philadelphia are world beaters. Does that mean that health care in America is the best?

Not according to data published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD}. The numbers are fascinating. Australia provides better health care for all of its people at about half the cost per person versus America.

Here are the America versus Australia comparisons: The life span in America is 81.2 years v. 84.5 years in Australia; Infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 births) is 5.8 in America v. 3.2 in Australia; adult obesity, measured percentage 38.2 v. Australia 27.9; cost per person is $9,892 in America v. $4,708 in Australia; cost as a percent of GDP in America is 17.2 in America v. 9.6 in Australia; and the number of uninsured people in America is 30 million v. zero in Australia.

We should all ask our congressmen and U.S. Senators why we can’t duplicate the Australian system? Wouldn’t it be better to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and replace it with an Australian-styled version?

Australia provides better health care for all of its people at about half the cost.

And the key factors of the Australian plan: (1) all are covered by Medicare with higher-income people also buying private health insurance; (2) the government negotiates prices for services and drugs which drive costs down; (3) health insurance is a consumer product.

The Australian system has been in place since 1984. In 30 years Australia has proven that there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick should use the congressional summer recess to convene town hall meetings, propose the Australian health care system and encourage his constituents to agree. We’ll see.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

On another subject, here’s what Terry Madonna had to say about the possibility of impeachment for President Trump. Madonna is a pollster. and an old friend. Trump’s approval rating has sunk to 36 percent. A recent survey reported that 41 percent of American voters support impeachment. Some betting markets are putting the probability as high as 50 percent that Trump won’t complete his full term.

Already, Congressman Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, has introduced impeachment articles in the House of Representatives. He won’t get very far while Democrat congressmen are in the minority. Then again, the mid-term elections are looming. Only 10 percent of voters believe that Congress is doing a good job. Many incumbents may be turned out of office.

I can see how congressional Republicans could loose their majority. If that should occur, a Democratic majority could build a case to impeach the president. Using the same logic, it would take just a few changes in the Senate to convict the President.

Historically, only two presidents were impeached (Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999) but neither was convicted in the senate. Former President Nixon avoided being thrown out of office because he resigned in 1974.

So it’s doubtful that the congress will have the courage to expel President Trump via the impeachment route. But a successful attack could begin with Special Counsel Robert Mueller demanding to see Donald Trump’s tax returns. Stay tuned.

By the way, here’s an interesting statistics which I read in the New York Times: According to a 2015 Pew Research Center, 34 percent of Americans reject evolution outright.

Are you surprised? I wasn’t

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