Will the naysayers who have been complaining about the passage of Obamacare — the most massive expansion of the welfare state in 45 years – be silenced by the revelation that the President’s plan has now received a ringing endorsement from none other than Fidel Castro, the longtime overseer of what is perhaps the most scenic Communist gulag ever established? Yesterday, the former dictator crowed that the passage of American health care reform was “a miracle” that represented a major “success” for Barack Obama. Above all, what Castro found “really incredible” was that it had taken the United States “234 years” to pass such legislation, “something that Cuba was able to do half a century ago.” But as Castro well knows, remarkable men like himself — and like Barack Obama — are capable of achieving remarkable, historic things. And lest you doubt whether Obama is indeed such a man, you need only recall that inspiring moment last June when Castro’s longtime friend and ally, Venezuela’s Communist dictator Hugo Chavez, admiringly called our President ”Comrade Obama” and told Castro: ”Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his [Obama's] right.”
It is worth noting that if anyone is qualified to speak about the glories of socialized medine, Fidel Castro is certainly that man. Government-run health care has proven to be quite successful in Cuba — for wealthy foreigners and high-ranking government officials, that is. Cuba, you see, in an effort to attract affluent Europeans who might be willing to spend their money on health care services they can’t access at home, has pioneered the practice of so-called “health tourism” through agencies that market Cuban medical services abroad. These agencies target people like the 1.2 million Brits who are currently on waiting lists for hospital admission, which they have been unable to secure thus far from their own single-payer health care paradise.
But alas, Fidel didn’t mention that the Cuban health care system, after providing for the needs of affluent tourists and government bigwigs, has almost nothing to offer the average Cuban citizen. Hospitals for ordinary Cubans possess a dearth of even the most basic medicines and medical equipment, hospital gowns and linens, even soap and disinfectants. Syringes are so scarce that they are frequently used to inject multiple patients without any sterilization, and “disposable” gloves are likewise used and reused. Consequently, infectious diseases are rampant in the nation’s hospital population.
Doctors haven’t benefited very much, either, from Cuba’s health care “miracle.” Because they earn the equivalent of only about $20 U.S. per month, Cuban physicians have quit the medical profession in droves — turning instead to the only industry that offers them any degree of economic opportunity: the Cuban tourism industry. It is not uncommon to see former doctors driving cabs, working as tour guides, or waiting tables in restaurants and family inns in Havana.
By contrast, in the pre-Castro years of the 1950s the Cuban medical system ranked among the best in the world; its ratio of one physician per 960 patients was rated 10th by the World Health Organization; its infant mortality rate was the lowest in Latin America – comparable to Canada’s and better than those of France, Japan, and Italy.
Notwithstanding these somewhat inconvenient facts, the inestimable Fidel Castro now assures us that President Obama’s health care plan is just what we Americans need as a giant step forward in our quest to duplicate what Cuba was able to achieve 50 years ago.
Some news stories don’t require commentary. They speak for themselves.