Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) painted an Orwellian vision of health care reform yesterday, claiming that critics of the Democrats’ plan could be denied coverage. Citing an unnamed Japanese man who supposedly approached her in Washington, Bachmann suggested that critics of the Japanese government are placed on a “list” and prohibited from receiving medical care under Japan’s universal health care system. Saying “a government takeover of health care is the crown jewel of socialism,” Bachmann insinuated a similar situation could occur in “our future”:
BACHMANN:He said that in Japan, to wait and get health care is almost impossible. You get on a list and you wait and you wait and you wait. But he said this is something people don’t know: in Japan, people have stopped voicing their opinion on health care. There are things that are wrong with Japanese health care, but people are afraid of voicing. ‘Well why is that,’ I asked. [He said], ‘Because they know that would get on a list and they wouldn’t get health care. They wouldn’t get in. They wouldn’t get seen. And so people are afraid. They’re afraid to speak back to government. They’re afraid to say anything.’ Is that what we want for our future? That takes us to gangster government at that point!
Watch it (beginning at 0:50):
Other than one individual’s account, Bachmann provides no evidence to support her slur of Japan’s health care system, let alone any evidence to suggest that the same thing would transpire in the U.S. The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Eric Roper “could not find evidence to back up the claim that Japan withholds health care from government critics.” He noted that a recent Washington Post article “describing the pros and cons of the Japanese health system makes no mention of it.”
Japan’s universal system has been able to keep health care costs far lower than those in the U.S., despite an aging population, allowing Japanese to visit a doctor nearly 14 times a year. Bachmann is also wrong when she claims that wait times make it “almost impossible” to receive care in Japan. As ABC News noted, “waiting lists are not a major problem” in Japan, and patients can even “go to a doctor without an appointment, but may have to sit for a long time in the waiting room.”
The Republican National Committee made a similar false accusation last August when it mailed a fundraising appeal that suggested that Democrats might use an overhaul of the health care system to deny medical treatment to Republicans.