Rush Limbaugh: U.S. Health Care Debate and Poll
Debates and Polls
Click Here For
Debates and Polls
For Debates and Polls
On All Topics
Rush Limbaugh, "If you have any doubts about the status of American health care, just compare it with that in other industrialized nations." (Told You So, p. 153)
The United States ranks 19th in life expectancy and 20th in infant mortality among 23 industrialized nations, according to the CIA's 1993 World Fact Book. The U.S. also has the lowest health care satisfaction rate (11 percent) of the 10 largest industrialized nations (Health Affairs, vol. 9, no. 2).
PRO 3 Rush's answer to Fair
America's health care system is the best in the world. According to Dr. Elizabeth McCaughey: "The [Clinton] Administration often cites two statistics -- America's relatively high infant mortality rate and its lower life expectancy -- to support the need for the Clinton health bill. But these have almost nothing to do with the quality of American medical care. Both statistics reflect the epidemic of low-birth-weight babies born to teenage and drug-addicted mothers, as well as the large numbers of homicides in American cities and drug-related deaths. In fact, if you're seriously ill, the best place to be is in the United States. Among all industrialized nations, the United States has the highest cure rates for stomach, cervical, and uterine cancer, the second highest cure rate for breast cancer and is second to none in treating heart disease." -- Dr. Elizabeth McCaughey, John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, "No Exit," The New Republic, February 7, 1994.
CON 4Limbaugh urged a comparison of "American health care to other industrialized nations." FAIR did so, and found the U.S. running near the bottom on such matters as life expectancy and infant survival. In attempted rebuttal, Limbaugh offers a quote from "Dr. Elizabeth McCaughey" (not a medical doctor, the Manhattan Institute's McCaughey has a PhD in constitutional law), who writes that high infant mortality and lower life expectancy "have almost nothing to do with the quality of American medical care. Both statistics reflect the epidemic of low-birth-weight babies born to teenage and drug-addicted mothers, as well as the large numbers of homicides in American cities and drug-related deaths." This is misinformation. Infant mortality, far from having "almost nothing to do with" the quality of health care, is closely linked with the availability of prenatal care. According to figures from the National Center for Health Statistics, the mortality rate for infants whose mothers received little or no prenatal care is almost 10 times that of mothers who received frequent prenatal care. And the Centers for Disease Control estimate that homicide lowers U.S. life expectancy by about three months -- which would do almost nothing to improve our rank. "Drug related deaths" are far fewer than homicides, and would have even less impact on our life expectancy ranking. It's ironic that Limbaugh objects to using these statistics as measures of American health. They're the same two statistics he cites on the same page of his book to show that "the health of the American people has never been better." Limbaugh ignores the second half of FAIR's argument: "The U.S. also has the lowest health care satisfaction rate (11 percent) of the 10 largest industrialized nations (Health Affairs, Vol. 9, No. 2)."