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Health care: The debate over Giuliani’s prostate

It’s a damning indictment of “socialized medicine,” said Joe Conason in Salon.com, except for one small problem.

It’s a damning indictment of “socialized medicine,” said Joe Conason in Salon.com, except for one small problem. It isn’t true. Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani claims in a new campaign ad that he was lucky to get prostate cancer in the U.S., where survival rates are 82 percent, while in England they are “only 44 percent, under socialized medicine.” Coming from a prostate cancer survivor, the ad—an attack on Democratic health plans—is quite powerful. But Giuliani’s claim is based on a dated, misleading study cited by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. Authoritative government reports indicate that the prostate cancer survival rate in England is now actually 74.4 percent. Use any statistic you like, said David Gratzer in City Journal. Giuliani was, in fact, “fortunate to be treated here.” It’s true that the most recent studies show that the percentage of all Americans and of all Brits who die from prostate cancer is similar. But Americans are more likely to be diagnosed early—and to survive once they are. No surprise there: Only 40 percent of cancer patients see cancer specialists in the U.K., where the government health service tries to cut costs by restricting access to specialists and expensive new drugs. At this very moment, said Michael Tanner in National Review Online, 750,000 Britons are waiting to be admitted to hospitals. Cancer patients are often forced to spend eight months between diagnosis and the beginning of treatment, and some die because their cancers are given time to grow and spread. The U.S. health-care system has plenty of problems. But Rudy’s right: “Turning our health care over to the government, as Democrats like Hillary Clinton want to do, could come at a very high price, not just in higher taxes and reduced choices—in lives.” Tell that to the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance, said the St. Petersburg, Fla., Times in an editorial. What do you think their survival rate is for prostate cancer or any serious illness? Meanwhile, the ranks of the uninsured are growing every day, as employers respond to soaring health-care costs by eliminating coverage. In his broadside against “socialized” medicine, Giuliani forgets that not all Americans enjoy a mayor’s access to the very best doctors and a taxpayer-subsidized health plan; he also neglects to mention that the U.S. spends twice as much on health care as other industrialized nations. Fixing our health-care mess “will likely involve a mixture of public and private strategies,” and scare t

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