ESPN, the most dominant sports-only cable channel in the United States is apparently not interested in hearing about progressive politics, even if it tries to sneak itself in during post-game coverage of a star-studded basketball event that aired on Friday night.
At the conclusion of the NBA's Celebrity-All Star game that was played in Toronto, Win Butler, the American lead singer of the Montreal-based rock band Arcade Fire who won the MVP award, tried to use his time at the microphone to tell voters in the U.S. that they might learn a lot from their northern neighbors, specifically their publicly-run health system that affords every single resident equal access to quality care.
"I just want to say that it’s an election year in the US," Butler stated. "The US has a lot they can learn from Canada: healthcare, taking care of people, and I think..." But that's as far as he got when ESPN correspondent Sage Steele took the mic away.
"So we’re talking about celebrities and not politics," said Steele, turning away. "Congratulations on your MVP!"
As the Huffington Post explains, the Canadian system stands in stark contrast to the for-profit system that exists in the United States:
Canada has a socialized health care system that provides care to all of its 31.5 million citizens. All “medically necessary and hospital physician services" are covered, with no money out of pocket for citizens. The government covers about 70 percent of all medical expenses, the remaining covered by private spending, as Indiana University's Aaron Carroll explains. The plans are financed and managed by each of Canada's ten provinces and three territories, and share many characteristics and standards of coverage.
The Canadian health care system ends up being less costly than in the U.S., which has the most expensive system in the world. While Canada’s health care system has been praised by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canadians have to wait longer than Americans to receive care.
Win's reference to Canada's system in the context of the ongoing U.S. presidential campaign highlights the fact that on the Democratic side Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have been specifically arguing about the feasibility of building a single-payer healthcare system. While Sanders has made his 'Medicare for All' plan a centerpiece of his campaign, Clinton has repeatedly argued that such an effort is just simply too hard to achieve, given the entrenched interests of the insurance and drug companies, and said at a recent rally that such a program "will never, ever" happen.
However, countering Clinton's argument that a single-payer 'Medicare-for-All' system would be too expensive, health system experts this week disagreed, saying the numbers do, in fact, "add up" and that universal coverage to every U.S. resident could be achieved while saving money overall.
Following Friday night's game, Win said that he was retiring from the world of celebrity basketball, but expressed hope that his performance for Team Canada (and perhaps his post-game remarks) would help speed up his application for Canadian citizenship.
"I’ve lived in the great city of Montreal for 15 years," Butler later said. "I’ve represented Montreal. If you guys want to fast-track my Canadian citizenship, hopefully this will help make me a permanent resident. I just want to say that I’m retiring as a celebrity right now, so I will not be eligible for the celebrity game next year. I’m retiring as a celebrity. We brought this home for Canada."