To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, May 19, 2024


Coburn’s Unreality



At Sen. Tom Coburn’s recent Town Hall meeting in Stillwater, when asked the question so many Canadians ask – “Why don’t Americans want what we have?” – he promptly reeled off all the serious problems of Canadian health care. He said the outcomes are worse in Canada for multiple medical procedures compared to the U.S. He even claimed that healthcare in Canada is “rationed.” He cited the case of a woman with two medical conditions [breast cancer and a broken hip] who was forced to choose treatment for one at the expense of the other.

Rationing of healthcare in Canada is laughable, a strange delusion, yet most of the gullible audience lapped it up without questioning it.

When it was stated that Canadians live longer and infant mortality is better in Canada, he seemed to agree about infant mortality and blamed it on Medicaid, something that doesn’t exist in Canada where the same quality of medical care is available to all regardless of wealth or poverty. In other words, medical health programs for the poor are peculiar to America and not found in other advanced nations where there is equal distribution of quality healthcare to all regardless of ability to pay or station in life. This doesn’t mean it’s free. It’s paid for through taxation.

An obvious disconnect neither he nor the audience seemed to understand was that if things were really so horrible in Canada why is it that 96% of Canadians “wouldn’t have it any other way?” Canadians must be really stupid to like all the horrible things that Sen. Coburn believes are true.

Why is it that only Americans speak loudly about the horrible medical care in Canada – not Canadians themselves? Is it possible that Sen. Coburn is in the pocket of the for-profit medical insurance industry which would do anything to prevent a sensible non-profit single payer system [paid for by public taxation].

It is recommended that all concerned readers go to the website for Manitoba Health,, for facts not fabrications. Or go on- line to the white pages of any Canadian city to pick at random the name and phone number of any Canadian.

He asked me directly, “Do you believe healthcare is a right?” I replied, “Every advanced nation with the sole exception of the U.S. believes healthcare is a basic right.”

Sen. Coburn flatly opposed this idea. To him, treating medical health care as a “right” would be the ruination of America.

The Oklahoma audience with few exceptions applauded this. He flatly rejected the enlightened view of other advanced nations that “paying for the healthcare of your neighbor makes for a stronger nation.”

An unasked question was, “Do you think you have the right to public education, to a police department, fire department, postal system, a military, public roads, safety and security?

The answer would be “Yes!” to all of this, yet when it comes to healthcare the senator as so many Americans makes a glaring exception. Could this be a “thinking disorder” of Sen. Coburn and those who applaud him?

Other nations spend 10% of GDP and cover everyone while the U.S. spends 16 % and is indifferent to 47 million uninsured. If things are as horrible in Canada as Sen. Coburn claims, why would Canadians elect Tommy Douglas, the founder of public healthcare, as “The Greatest Canadian”?

Again how do we explain the disconnect between what Americans like Sen. Coburn think about Canadian healthcare, and what Canadians themselves think? Why do Americans continue to say what Canadians are not saying? If things are so bad in Canada why don’t Canadians speak out against their terrible healthcare system? Why do they support it, put up with it, have good things to say about it, and express gratitude for it? Certainly they never face medical bankruptcy, the leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.

Apparently Americans believe it would be illegal to pick up a phone and talk to a real Canadian. If fact-challenged Americans would simply communicate with Canadians they would learn that “the facts” as presented by Sen. Coburn are in fact fabrications put out by the private insurance industry in order to protect their profits. The embarrassing and terrible fact is that Americans are willing to let their sick neighbors who can’t afford medical care die [some 40,000 per year]. That doesn’t happen in other advanced, humanistic-based nations like Canada. Unfortunately it happens here big time. Sen. Coburn did not dwell on these unpleasant facts.

Could it be that Sen. Coburn suffers from delusional thinking, known to psychiatrists as a mental disorder? To those afflicted with this disorder the delusions are so real there’s no point in explaining that the delusions exist only in their minds. Isn’t this a question we all need to ask about ourselves?

Sen. Coburn is not a listener; rather he is a master of glib rhetoric, a verbally gifted, agile, acrobatic responder. The “facts” are always on the tip of his mobile tongue, yet when he cites how horrible things are in Canada, shouldn’t he also cite the horrible facts about medical care in the U.S.?

For starters: The World Health Organization now ranks the U.S. as 37th in the world in quality of healthcare, Canada No. 10 and France No. 1. The latter two both have public health care systems as does every other advanced nation with the sole exception of the U.S. If the definition of a “great nation” includes social contributions, like Medicare, how great is America?

Yet to a mesmerized audience Sen. Coburn is “right on.” Is it possible that Americans like him suffer from a thinking disorder that requires treatment and medication, as opposed to the people of other advanced nations who don’t suffer from this affliction? Unlike the U.S. these nations were wise enough to opt for universal healthcare some 50 years ago and continue to support and benefit from it. Why can’t our healthcare cover everyone and cost far less – i.e., be as good as theirs?

Ron du Bois is a retired Oklahoma State University professor, co-founder of Oklahomans for Universal Health Care and a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. He lives in Stillwater, OK.


      • What I read in Ron duBois’ article is completely true concerning healthcare in Canada. I have lived in Canada since 1988, with the exception of 2002-2005 when I was serving churches in Oklahoma. Being back here again was the real eye-opener: like the 96% of Canadians that Ron cites in his article, I would not have my health care any other way. When my husband and I lived in Oklahoma, our experience was that the care was excellent – but only if you could afford the premiums on the health insurance. Still, there were “pre-existing conditions” that were not covered, and we had to pay for out-of-pocket. I wondered about the millions of uninsuranced Oklahomans who would not be able to do this. As a person of faith, I believe that it is our duty to care for our fellow human beings. If paying higher taxes to ensure that everyone – rich or poor – can see a doctor for free is one way to care, then I feel privileged to be a part of a system that allows me to do this. All I can say is please listen to what Ron is urging you to do in getting the real facts before you jump to conclusions about what our Canadian system is like. It is marvelous, particularly because of the preventative healthcare that we can do before a medical condition worsens. It is also marvelous from the healthcare providers’ perspective. I have the privilege of working as an on-call hospital chaplain, and I see first-hand the excellent medical care that the public recieves, from the Emergency Room to post-op recovery. I have never seen anyone dissatisfied. This system really works!

    • My husband and I lived in Flowers Cove, Newfoundland, CA in 1970-72 and enjoyed the healthcare in our isolated area. We went back for a visit four years ago and made a point of asking people if they were pleased with their healthcare. To a person eveyone said yes. We still have friends in Newfoundland, Ontario, BC and the Northwest Territories-no one complains. Yes they do have to wait sometimes for non-emergency surgeries but they understand their system is geared to the “greater good”. Where did our country loose that amazing concept all the while insisting we are a “christian nation”!

  1. Thank you Mr. du Bois, Excellent article. Keep up the good work. I know you are swimming against the tide there in Oklahoma. It is amazing to me that people are so adamantly opposed to universal health…. expect of course when it comes to them.

    Sam Wilson
    Berkeley, CA
    (formerly from Hennessey and Shawnee OK)

  2. Thank you! I am a native born Oklahoman who spent a few years in Canada.My new husband was transferred there by his oilfield supply company.Thus, our first baby was born at Edmonton General Hospital. Imagine our surprise to find that a 15 day stay for this new mom and her wee one cost ONLY the price of two Sunday newspapers!!! The excellent care I received contrasted greatly with the birth of my second baby. The cost was horrendous as the only time I met the doctor was on the first scheduled office visit and he was in Europe when an Intern delivered this son. I spent three days without seeing any certified physician and was never so disheartened at the cost and the lack of care I experienced. Americans need and deserve much better medical services and PHARMACEUTICAL services. Single Payer Health Plan is the only fair, reasonable and CHRISTIAN thing for our country to enact. Anything less is GREEDY AND FOR PROFITING INSURANCE COMPANIES, DRUG COMPANIES AND DOCTORS WHO SEND INTERNS TO DO THEIR JOBS A LOT OF THE TIME!!!

  3. This is a bit off the topic of Healthcare. But a relative from Oklahoma sent me a speech that Mr. Coburn delivered to the Senate a few weeks ago railing against government spending.

    Here is my challenge to Senator Coburn.
    Identity $11 billion in federal spending cuts in Oklahoma this fiscal year that he thinks should be implement. This is about the portion of the annual federal deficit that would be allocated to Oklahoma if distributed on a per capita basis.

    On top of that Oklahoma received about $1.43 in every federal spending for every dollar of tax sent to the federal government. So he should probably kick in another $3-4 billion in cuts just to be fair to the rest of the country

    Oh good article by the way enjoyed the read

    Sam Wilson

  4. Coburn is resting his prostate after surgery in Tulsa. I have to ask is he paying for it himself or is he asking for donations. Heaven forbid, could he be suing his CONGRESSIONAL health insurance?!?!? Did his minister perform the surgery, is his next-door neighbor going to change the catheter?

    That’s what he tells his constituents in his town hall meetings Ask your neighbors and churches for help when you need it, not the Federal Government.


  6. Thanks for the excellent article. What makes Coburn’s point of view even more astonishing to me is that he is an M.D. He has seen human suffering up close and personal, and still begrudges others medical care.

    The level of corruption in Congress is downright scary.

  7. Last summer, 2012, I spoke with a woman from Canada. We discussed Canada’s health care system. She said she and her family had used the Canadian health care system for years and they like it. She said she would never live in the U.S. because the health care is so inferior to that of Canada. I asked her about the comments from American congressmen and others who describe the Canadian system as inadequate and of poor quality. She indicated this was absolute nonsense. Why is it that the Canadians seem to greatly appreciate the health care they receive but some politicians and others in the U.S. have a very desparaging view of the Canadian health care system? Shouldn’t those who use the Canadian helath care know more about it than those who have never used it and have no first hand kowledge aout it?

  8. Great piece thank you. Correct me, but I didn’t see any bristling comments refuting your statements.
    My wife & I purchased a 1/4 sec. of land in Oklahoma (a small piece of dirt we’ve heard it called) a few years back. We plan to retire there. One thing we liked immediately was the good folks we met anywhere we traveled in Oklahoma (nearly a month that first trip). We made a loop through 6 states finding many friendly people, however no state could compete with the natural attitude we found in Oklahoma. We are still mystified as to why they vote so far to the right. Any help here??
    We live near Seattle. My wife is in a local chapter of a national womens charity organization. Women in her group have complained that “Obamacare” has been costing thiers or their husbands businesses tons of $$$ for 2+ years now and gets worse all the time. When she explained that the “Affordable health care act” does not even begin until Jan. 2014, they said she is wrong. Besides….some of them said “we help charity help pay for those people to see Dr’s, why should we need to pay again”. Ignorance knows no boundaries. I’m sure not a one has ever been without insurance for a NY minute and knows not a soul who admits at least to being without ins. ever. Too bad they can’t be made to seek a Dr’s care at a “free clinic” the next few times they need one. Or be required to decide…. do I feed the kids this week or go see a Dr about the pain in my stomach/chest/leg etc that grows worse every week.

    The horribly sad truth is: all my country is #1 in the world anymore is.
    # of peopel in prision, %of population in prision, cost of healthcare #37 best quality, most weapons made, most weapons sold, most weapons mused in combat, most people killed by remote controled drones (soon to be hovering over all of us), most pollution per person, close to most $$$$ cost for education that is # what 30 to 40 in quality. Maybe we can be proud we have lots of Billionaires…. the ones who own our Courts our Executive Branchs and our Congresses. Federal/State. 5 lobbyist spending an admitted 2,5 billion (5mil each Federal congress person) each year… 5mil admitted = how much really spent?? And that is just Feds not State level
    Question is: What do we do about the situation???

    Again thank you for the article. Dan

  9. It seems to me that the phrase “promote the general welfare” is constitutional reason enough for the government to be involved in the provision of health care for the citizenry. The other clauses in the document, with the exception of the one referring to defense, may be similarly applicable.

  10. I’ve read a couple of comments on here and want to know, why do us Native American Indians have to have health insurance for? When we get free hospital visits and check-ups. I absolutely do not like this Obamacare!

  11. How can this nation continue to run properly when we are ran by greedy, and corrupt people. We the people are to stupid to fight for the independence in their life. The nation need to find out what the people need especially who are low-income and they need to be able to choose.

  12. This article is well written and well thought out on many levels. The views I see are mirrored by so many people all across this nation. I even believe that the health care America has is nowhere close to what my friends in other countries receive.

    A very close friend of mine in Ontario, Canada, and I discussed this very thing not too long ago when I was facing some issues which required doctor care. For non-emergency care, his kidney stones, he had only a short wait after visiting the ER three times (They have a three strike rule for such things before scheduling surgery) while someone here in America would be visiting the ER and doctor often for the same thing before, grudgingly, admitting them to the hospital to have it taken care of. My friend paid a small fee compared to the thousands of dollars that would have been paid without insurance, or the hundreds that many insurance companies would say the patient needed to fork over after meeting deductibles and other criteria.

    Only those who qualify (or rattled off a line of BS) are allowed on Medicaid which will cover most, if not all, of your hospital bills, here in the US of A. Those who aren’t sick enough or make too much, to qualify are left high and dry with only the many insurance companies charging exceedingly high premiums for the right to use their health insurance.

    Obamacare, while at its very core is a good idea, will only drive the poor who don’t have the funds to purchase it, or any other policy, deeper into poverty. Tack on the fact that it is being forced on a nation of people who honestly do not care and are just now realizing that they aren’t as secure as they thought they were before with their ‘substandard’ health insurance after being told ‘if we were happy, we could keep it,’ by the president himself.

    Everybody has different needs as far as health care. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Asian, African, tall, short, or what have you, we don’t need the exact same thing as our neighbor does. Why pay for maternity care if you’re a single male or a woman who doesn’t have the parts needed for maternity? Why make us pay more for something which is supposed to be for everyone then fines us if we cannot afford it at all?

    Coburn’s lack of fact checking is astounding. He hasn’t bothered to look up anything he has said against Canadian Health care. Maybe, if he’d check it out and ask a few Canadian citizens what they think of their health system, he might learn a thing or three. I know I did during the discussion with my friend.

    I do know, if we had a system like Canada’s, which is not a socialist regime as claimed by so many, I wouldn’t be staring at the medical bills I see now just for me. I wouldn’t be worrying about those and be allowed to focus something more important; such as my education and writing career.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.
Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
Exceptional reporting about goings on in my home state as well as informative opinion pieces that makes people think about issues of the day...........get a SUBSCRIPTION FOLKS!!!!!!!
Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.