Is Public Healthcare in the UK as Sick as Rightwing America Claims?

From The Guardian:

The NHS has become the unexpected target of those opposed to Barack Obama’s healthcare reform proposals. Republicans and rightwing commentators in the US have made strong allegations about the failings of Britain’s health system. Denis Campbell and Girish Gupta put those claims to professionals in the health sector

The claim

Ted Kennedy, 77, would not be treated for his brain tumour if he was in Britain because he is too old – Charles Grassley, Republican senator from Iowa.

The response

Untrue, says the Department of Health. “There is no ban on anyone of any age receiving any treatment, ” said a spokesman. “Whether to prescribe drugs or recommend surgery is rightly a clinical decision taken on a case by case basis.”

The claim

In England, anyone over 59 years of age cannot receive heart repairs, stents or bypass because it is not covered as being too expensive and not needed – an anonymously authored, but widely circulated, email, largely sent to older voters

The response

Totally untrue. Growing numbers of patients over 65 with heart conditions are having surgery, including valve repairs and heart bypass surgery, says Professor Peter Weissberg, the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) medical director. For example, the average age at which people have a bypass operation has risen from 58 in 1991 to 66 in 2008.

The claim

Breast cancer kills 46% of its targets in Britain, compared with 25% in the US; prostate cancer kills 57% of the Britons it strikes, compared with 25% of American victims; Britain’s heart attack fatality rate was 19.5% higher than America’s in 2005 – Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco-based thinktank

The response

Breast cancer does claim more lives, proportionally, here than in the US. According to the 2002 Globocan database run by the World Health Organisation’s cancer advisers, 19.2 of every 100,000 Americans die of the disease, but 24.3 per 100,000 here die. On prostate cancer, a Lancet Oncology global study last year found that 91.9% of Americans with the disease were still alive after five years compared to just 51.1% in the UK. With heart attacks, 40% of Britons who suffer one die from it compared to 38% in the States – nowhere near the difference claimed.

Angry White Man Snatches ‘Rosa Parks’ Sign From Black Woman at Town Hall Meeting

From The Daily Voice:

If there was any doubt that race is playing a role in the town hall confrontations taking place in recent weeks, a new video demonstrates exactly how racially polarized the debate has become.

A provocative scene shown on the news Tuesday night featured a black woman being escorted from a town hall meeting in Missouri held by Senator Claire McCaskill. The clip on the news showed the black woman hauled off by the police, which seemed to indicate the black woman was angry at something being said.

Most of the town hall participants and angry protesters in recent weeks have been white, so the image was a bit unusual. But a new video released on YouTube puts yesterday’s news clip in context. The black woman, identified later as Maxine Johnson, had just been attacked by a white man, who walked up from his seat in the bleachers and yanked away a sign the black woman was holding that depicted civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

As the black woman was showing the sign to a news photographer who asked to see it, the white man, identified by the local press as 67-year-old James Winfrey, walked over and grabbed the black woman’s sign and stole it from her. The mostly white audience cheered when the man returned to his seat and ripped up the sign. (Editor’s Note: From the video, the white person appears to be a woman but the commentary from the YouTube poster and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story indicate the white person was a man.)

When the black woman got up and walked over to get her sign back, the police intervened and separated the two. But the part that was shown on most television stories only depicted the black woman being carried away by police.