I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She has always been hilarious, and a trailblazer. Like many women, I watched Seinfeld and admired Elaine's spunk. She kept up with funny men Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander, and made the show the classic that it is. Now Louis-Dreyfus stars in her own show, Veep.
Today Louis-Dreyfus announced very sad news: She has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her announcement reads "One in eight women get breast cancer. Today I'm the one. The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let's fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality."
My heart goes out to Louis-Dreyfus and her family. Cancer is non-partisan and ruthlessly attacks people on both sides of the aisle, rich or poor, in Hollywood or on Main Street. I wish it weren't so.
But there's a disconnect in Louis-Dreyfus's conclusion that "universal health care" would improve the lot of U.S. cancer patients. The data clearly show that average breast cancer patients (and indeed, patients with various types of cancer) have long fared better in the United States than just about anywhere else in the world. This is true when we look at survival rates or life expectancy after diagnosis. And it continues to be true today.
I know Louis-Dreyfus means well, and it is very generous of her to use a moment of personal pain to think of the well-being of others. But the best way to ensure all American women have access to better cancer care is to reform our health policies in the opposite direction from socialized medicine.
Advocates of universal health care will often make the case, as it sounds like Louis-Dreyfus is doing, that only *some* American women have access to our top-notch care. They may have a point: It's not often talked about, but major U.S. cancer facilities like MD Anderson, Sloan-Kettering, and the Mayo Clinic don't accept ObamaCare plans. Like other forms of socialized medicine, Medicaid and ObamaCare offer a false promise: coverage, but no care. If we want to improve the lot of American women who aren't as fortunate as Louis-Dreyfus, let's start by reforming those programs.