America gets blamed for the failings of the Canadian healthcare system

Joseph Maraachli

All over the news today, heartbreaking headlines about a dying 13 month old old Canadian baby read like this:

Detroit hospital refuses Baby Joseph
Detroit hospital refuses to treat dying Ontario infant
Dying Ont. baby’s transfer to Detroit denied

Joseph Maraachli has endured much suffering since he’s been born. He’s afflicted with a rare neurological illness that also took the life is his sister 8 years ago, according to Life Site News. His condition is grave and his parents have accepted that young Joseph is going to die. Little Joseph Maraachli is currently on life support and the family’s last wishes are that he be given a tracheotomy so he can be brought home to die in peace and dignity.

Moe Maraachli, Joseph’s father, has told Life Site News that he believes his son would get better care in the U.S. The couple lives just across the bridge from Detroit, Michigan in Windsor, Canada. Apparently Joseph spent some time at a children’s hospital in Michigan which happened to be one of the few times he showed improvement.

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The Canadian healthcare system has denied the parent’s request to provide a palliative path towards his death and is now looking towards the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee to determine his fate. The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee is a Canadian organization that basically gives people a gladiator-style thumbs up or down as to whether or not they’ll pull the plug on certain patients. The Canadian hospital Joseph is currently be cared for wants to take him off his respirator. The Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario Canada has ruled on the side of the hospital but the parents claim that doing taking him off his respirator would cause him to choke to death and die in agony.

Previously, a Detroit hospital agreed to give the baby a tracheotomy but later reneged after having reviewed the Canadian’s hospital records.

While all of this is extremely sad and unfortunate, I can’t believe how the Canadian press has turned this around to blame “Evil America.” While I cannot confirm whether or not the family was paying cash for this procedure, hospitals in the U.S. that accept foreign patients typically perform their surgeries and care gratis. In rare circumstances, when a patient cannot get the same treatment at home, Canada will pay a fee schedule at significantly below cost. It’s more a gesture than anything else. But most of these hospitals use tax payers dollars to pay for the care of foreign citizens. In America, foreigners that come here for life threatening illnesses must be treated by law. If they wind up at a private hospital, typically they get sent to a federal or state health clinic once they’re stable. So, you can be from outer Mongolia, come here with cancer, and be treated with tax payer dollars. It’s part of what makes our country great. We’re charitable.

Now, far be it from me to be a heartless wench. I feel for this family, but I fail to see how these headlines, faulting the big, bad American healthcare system is helping anybody. The real question is — why isn’t the Canadian healthcare system helping this baby and why isn’t the outrage directed squarely where it belongs — at an unethical universal healthcare system who is failing one of its most vulnerable?

I know Canadians are very patriotic, perhaps more nationalistic than most Americans even, but it’s time to face the reality of the limitations on universal healthcare. While I often hear Canadians singing the praises of the Canadian healthcare system, it’s typically from healthy people. I can tell you — having worked at a hospital for many years and having to field hundreds of phone calls a month from angry Canadians who were absolutely appalled and shocked that their Canadian healthcare system would not transfer here for cancer treatment, it isn’t all that. I’m not sure if it was the entitlement factor that left them so offended or if it was the shear desperation. It was truly heartbreaking to hear their stories. Many would beg us to take them, telling us that they would surely die within the confines of their own Canadian healthcare system.

The point is all but moot here in America as this is the unfortunate direction our system is heading, barring any extreme intervention which is likely not going to pass our Senate. I truly believe that in 2014, there will be a rude awakening amongst Americans as to how much their healthcare will change, along with their premiums. Nothing is truly free. No costly, unaffordable “gift” is without immense sacrifice.

I can give you speedy, cheap and quality in your healthcare system — just pick two.