No American, certainly not one about to occupy a leadership position in our government, could possibly call the American healthcare system “the best healthcare system in the world.” Boehner did just that last week. He was having an out-of-country experience.

For statistical refutation, we need only refer to the CIA’s World Fact Book (no leftie think tank, to be sure) and check the health statistics. The United States is 49th in life expectancy. Our proud nation bests the Libyans in this category but not Japan, France, Spain, the United Kingdom or, of course, Italy. You not only live about two years longer in Italy, but you eat better, too.

The same doleful situation applies to infant mortality. This is the saddest of all categories since it relates to infants who don’t make it to their first birthday. The CIA tells us that the nations that do the worst in this category are mostly in Africa. Then comes much of Asia and parts of South America, but when you start getting up there a bit, Cuba does better than the United States, and so does Italy, Hungary, Greece, Canada, Portugal, Britain, Australia and Israel, among others.

This should be an embarrassment to us all — but, clearly, it is not. To Boehner, these figures — infants dying before they can get a cupcake with a single candle in it — don’t even exist. Rather than improve the situation, he might want to cut the CIA’s appropriation.

Looking elsewhere — think tanks, etc. — Boehner might come across a category that healthcare expert T.R. Reid labels “avoidable mortality.” Among the richest nations, the United States is 19th of 19. America is awful at treating asthma, diabetes and kidney disease. If you have any of these, it’s just your bad luck that you’re not Japanese or French . . . or, really, anything other than American. The United States does do well with breast and prostate cancer, but these are represented by politically potent lobbies. See, we can do better when we want to.

Source: Excerpt from an article by Richard Cohen for The Miami Herald

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