Canadian Doctor Stands Tall in Meeting With U.S. Senators

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Canada’s healthcare system is a point of interest for both supporters and detractors of the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s plan to renovate the United States’ own system. On Tuesday, Dr. Danielle Martin, vice president of the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto and former chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, talked about it in a bold appearance in front of a U.S. Senate subcommittee. She had no trouble, to say the least, responding to tough questions from senators including anti-Obamacare Republican Richard Burr.

Martin’s biggest win, so to speak, came when Burr asked if she knew how many people die while on waiting lists in Canada.

“I don’t, sir, but I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all,” was her response.

Dr. Danielle Martin told Congress that "I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all."
Dr. Danielle Martin told Congress that “I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.”

She was also praised for her response to the question about Premier Danny Williams choosing to go to Florida for a heart procedure in 2010, rather than staying in Canada.

“It’s actually interesting, because in fact the people who are the pioneers of that particular surgery, which Premier Williams had, and have the best health outcomes in the world for that surgery, are in Toronto, at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, just down the street from where I work,” she said.

She also added, “We believe that when you try to address wait times, you should do it in a way that benefits everyone, not just people who can afford to pay.”

In addition to the praise on social media that she received, Martin has been lauded by politicians and members of the media alike. Bernie Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, didn’t go as far as The Huffington Post, which dubbed Martin a “hero,” but he did say, “She more than held her own. She did very well.”

One of the aspects of the Canadian system that American legislators could look to in the future is the health spending account established by the Canadian Income Tax Act. It provides group health benefits to employees who work for small businesses and are not eligible for them otherwise. Perhaps, in the future, that type of legislation could allow more people to get the coverage they need for specific procedures and treatments.

The difficulty of her situation was not lost on Dr. Martin, who tweeted, “A taste of senate politics for a Canadian doc — makes the House of Commons look tame.” It will be interesting to see whether or not her responses inspire any change of opinions or progress in the U.S. healthcare system.

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