B.C. man in US health ads says they go too far
Published Thursday, September 10, 2009 8:14PM PDT
A B.C. man featured in a series of American conservative health care ads says the videos portray the Canadian medicare system as "barbaric" -- and that goes too far.
Charlie Wadge, 52, says the videos, created by lobby group Conservatives for Patients Rights, accurately told how he headed south of the border to avoid a two-year wait for hip replacement surgery.
But what the ads failed to mention is his many good experiences with our health care system, as well as his own political beliefs, he says, adding up to a whole picture that is "misleading."
"They just made it sound way worse than it was," he said.
"They made it sound barbaric -- like we don't have a health care system at all."
At least three people from B.C. are featured in the ads, which are culled from a documentary produced by former CNN reporter Gene Randall and paid for by Conservatives for Patients Rights.
The ads follow a single theme: patients with severe medical conditions are ignored by an uncaring Canadian health care system. Their only resort is to pay Americans for sometimes life-saving treatment.
"If you were to learn about the Canadian system through those ads, you would have a very skewed view of the system," said Dr. Robert Woollard, who practices family medicine at the University of B.C.
The patients were recruited by Rick Baker, a B.C.-based consultant for Timely Medical Services, which matches disillusioned Canadian patients with American hospitals, and Dr. Brian Day, who runs a private hospital at Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver.
Baker told CTV News that he participated in the lobby effort for an admittedly self-serving reason: to stop Obama's health reform plans so he would still be able to send his own clients south of the border.
"When [the bill] does finally pass, which it will, it will be so watered down that it does not destroy the rights of the American public," he said.
Another woman featured in the series was Shona Holmes. She claimed that she had a life-threatening brain tumour, and had to go south of the border before doctors would save her life.
But it turned out that the tumour was a cyst - not a life-threatening condition, though it could have impaired her vision. Holmes and CPR have come under a lot of criticism in both Canadian and American media for overplaying her case.
Dr. Day said the ads were accurate in theme, but ultimately misquoted him as well by taking him out of context.
Wadge says he was treated well in Oklahoma City. The hip replacement surgery cost $18,000 and he says no one should have to wait so long for treatment.
But he feels terrible that his words are being used to slow health care reform in the United States. He said if given the choice again, he would decline to appear in any ad.
"I think everyone should have health care," he said.