President Trump took aim at congressional Democrats on Monday by citing protests about the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS)—but both NHS officials and opposition leaders are firing back, saying that Trump has misinterpreted the protests.
Congressional Republicans last week during their annual policy retreat signaled that they would table efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. However, Trump on Monday appeared to wade back into the health reform debate when he criticized Democrats for "pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working."
The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working. Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
According to Becker's Hospital Review, the United Kingdom operates a single-payer system, and last year Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiled his so-called "Medicare-for-All" bill, which would transition the United States to a single-payer health system. While several Democrats have expressed support for the proposal, it has not advanced in the Republican-controlled Congress.
Britons rush to defend NHS
According to the Washington Post's "WorldView", Trump's tweet may have been sparked by a Fox News Channel story in which Nigel Farage, a former leader of the UK Independence Party, said that Britain's health service is "pretty much at a breaking point" because of a "population crisis." He said, "We just haven't got enough hospitals, we haven't got enough doctors, we haven't got enough facilities."
The United Kingdom's health care system has struggled to keep up with an aging population and costly technology advances, the Post reports. Further, like the United States, Britain is currently facing a hard influenza season, and some of the country's hospitals are struggling to meet the high demand. In some cases, the media has reported hospitals turning patients away and diverting them to other locations.
But according to The Guardian, this weekend's protests were in support of NHS—not against—and were calling on Prime Minister Theresa May's government to increase funding. The march, which was called "NHS in crisis: Fix it now," was organized by the People's Assembly and Health Campaigns Together.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party said that Trump was "wrong," adding: "People were marching because we love our NHS and hate what the Tories are doing to it. Healthcare is a human right."
A spokesperson for May, who is a member of Britain's conservative party, said "the prime minister is proud of our NHS, that is free at the point of delivery." The spokesperson said that funding for NHS "is at a record high and was prioritized in the budget with an extra 2.8 billion pounds. In the recent Commonwealth Fund international survey, the NHS was rated the best in the world for a second time."
Jeremy Hunt, Britain's health secretary, also denounced Trump's comments and criticized the U.S. health care system. He tweeted, "I may disagree with claims made on that march but not ONE of them wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover."
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) February 5, 2018
(Vartorella, Becker's Hospital Review, 2/5; Adam, Washington Post, 2/5; Goldstein, "To Your Health," Washington Post, 2/5; Reuters, 2/5; Walker/Pengelly, The Guardian, 2/5; Jenkins, The Guardian, 2/3; Weber, Fox News, 2/1; Yeginsu, New York Times, 1/3).
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