[Ed. note: More like “Judas,” if you ask the Dems and Obama]
The unhappy few of Americans who still think national health insurance is a good idea might learn something from Australia’s experience with a national system—not so much about how to design a workable system, but about the political struggles that must occur before one finally emerges. Australia had the rudiments of a welfare state well before the United States, and its first comprehensive proposal for national health insurance dates from 1938, but the final battle over a program really began in 1972 when a Labor government took power.
Australia has two major political parties: Labor, which is similar to the British Labor Party, and the Liberal Party, which is similar to the British Tories, and which works in coalition with several minor parties. In 1972, Gough Whitlam’s Labor government proposed a national health care system, dubbed Medibank, to provide free public hospital care and to defray the cost of other medical services. Australians could still supplement Medibank with private insurance that would allow them to stay in private hospitals and be cared for by the physician of their choice. Medibank was roughly similar to America’s Medicare system, but applied to all ages.