Monday, March 8, 2010

The Health Care Irony

Sarah in Skagway, Alaska

Oh, the irony. That's right, irony. I'll say it slowly so that the liberals can understand, "I-R-O-N-Y."

So, back in the day, a young Sarah Heath and her family lived in Skagway until she was about five years old. Skagway was a pretty nifty distance from any good medical facilities.

AP talked to Chuck Heath and Tom Cochran, an old neighbor about it:
"There was no road out of there at that time," said retired teacher Chuck Heath, reached by phone in Wasilla. "The ferry schedule was very erratic. We had no doctor in Skagway. The plane schedule was very erratic. The winds dictated whether the planes could come in or not."
So if they couldn't get to a hospital in Alaska, they hopped on a train to Whitehorse, Canada. But they only did it if they had to:
"We much preferred to use our facilities because my insurance didn't cover anything in Whitehorse. And even though they have socialized medicine, I still had to pay the bill, being an American citizen," Heath said.
Uh-oh, did you catch that? They had to pay the bill anyway. So much for that whole "grifter" thing.

To this day people still travel to Whitehorse when they can't get to Juneau:
"If you can't fly to Juneau — and a lot of times you can't, especially in the winter — they're going to get you to a medical treatment facility if it's an emergency, and that's normally where Whitehorse comes into play," Cochran said.

"It was probably 10 years ago, anyway, two of my kids were in a four-wheeler accident, and one of them was hurt pretty badly, so we medevaced them to Whitehorse via ambulance," he said. "It's usually emergency situations when people go up there."

So this wasn't a case of Canadian health care being so much more wonderful or even free, it was a matter of necessity. Sarah wasn't saying that Canada's healthcare is better or that socialized medicine is the cat's pajamas - she was pointing out an irony while trying to forge a connection between herself and the Canadian audience. Period. End of story.

Now I would like to address the matter of the contradiction.

Some are pointing to an old article from 2007 where Sarah said that they took her brother to Juneau on the ferry instead of Whitehorse. So, which was it? Juneau or Whitehorse? My guess would be Whitehorse, since her dad confirms it:

Palin's father said his family probably boarded the train for the Whitehorse hospital only twice — once when a daughter had rheumatic fever, and once when his son, also named Chuck, severely burned his leg and an infection set in.
So was Palin knowingly lying in 2007 when she said that they took him to Juneau on the ferry? I don't know. I can only speculate, and here's my speculation:

First off, it's clear from the AP article that the Heath family only went to Whitehorse a couple of times for emergencies when they couldn't get to Juneau. This would mean that they did hop on a ferry or a plane down to Juneau when they could, so that route was regularly used by their family. Why would she knowingly lie about the particular incident involving her brother when she obviously had many other examples to choose from?

But Sarah was five when the family moved away from Skagway. My guess is that she got her medical incidents mixed up. I've done the same thing. There are times I'll be reminiscing about my childhood and my mom will look at me funny and go, "That's not the way it happened..." Which brings me to part two of my speculation -

Why did she get the story right this time?

Sarah always tries to relate something of herself or of Alaska to every audience that she addresses. She did the same thing at the Wisconsin Right to Life event. I was there. She said that she talked to her Dad before the event and asked him if he knew of any connections with Wisconsin. Those connections she then shared with us.

My guess is that she did the same thing here. "Dad, do you know of any connections with Canada?"

"Well, we used to go over to Whitehorse for medical treatment when we couldn't get to Juneau. Remember that time your brother burned his leg? We had to put him on a train into Whitehorse for that."

There ya go. Dad straightened out a childhood memory. And what, you think she remembered any time that she had recounted the story wrong? What was she supposed to say? "Back in 2007 I gave an interview and I got this story wrong. Here's what actually happened...."

To sum up Juneau vs. Whitehorse:

A. Sarah was five years old. When I was five, I could have sworn I touched the moon. Turned out it was a dream.

B. It's clear from the AP article that they only went to Whitehorse once or twice for emergencies. Other times they did take the ferry to Juneau.

C. My guess is that Sarah got her medical incidents mixed up.

D. Before she spoke in Wisconsin, she asked her Dad if he knew of any connections to Wisconsin. He gave her a few stories. No doubt she did the same thing here, and Chuck told her about the trip to Whitehorse. So this time she wasn't relying on her memory from 40 years ago, but rather her dad's accurate account.

Put her in jail. It's all over.

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