Canadian Healthcare Coming to America?

Jillian Bandes

6/3/2009 6:17:04 PM - Jillian Bandes

Jack Layton, the head of Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP), is meeting with Obama administration officials this week to try to help mold Obama's working healthcare plan into something that resembles Canada's. If Layton is successful, Canadians’ liberal health care lobby stands to greatly benefit.

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The Canadian government discourages its citizens from obtaining private health care, and most Canadians have no access to private care in their country. However, since 80% of the population lives within 100 miles of the U.S. border, Canadians commonly come over to the U.S. to get treatment. If the U.S. also outlawed private care, Canadians would be more inclined to stick with their own system.

“There is no doubt that strengthening our system in Canada will be easier with public health care in the United States,” Layton told the Washington Times.

If Obama adopts a national health care mandate, as was promoted by Secretary Hillary Clinton during her Presidential campaign and as is currently in place in Massachusetts, it would prevent conservatives from undermining a public Canadian-style system.

“If Obama succeeds, it helps us hang onto our public health care system because they're (proponents of privatization) always chipping away at it, trying to say that we need to privatize,” Layton said during an interview with the Canadian Press.

Edmund F. Haislmaier, a fellow at the Heritage Institution, doesn’t think there is a good chance Layton will be successful with his lobbying efforts. But the fact that he’s here, and meeting with White House Communications Director Anita Dunn and others, means that he’s serious about trying.

“To a certain extent, this isn’t about the U.S debate. It’s about Canadians becoming more and more aware that their system isn’t working,” said Haislmaier. Canadians are already using private U.S. systems so much that it is undermining the effectiveness of the public Canadian system.

“It’s a theological position that one shouldn’t make money off of health care, and [Layton] seems to share that ideological predisposition,” said Haislmaier.

On Monday, 24 Democrats met to discuss health care proposals, but did not invite a single Republican. Whether or not Layton met with the Democrats is unknown.