Cumberland Times-News


July 6, 2014

Australians glad to have government health care

 I am sure you are familiar with statements like these: “Government- sponsored health insurance is nothing but a socialist takeover. The freedom of citizens is at stake.” “It promises nothing but higher taxes and lower standards.”

Aussies shake their heads when they hear the negative rhetoric around universal health care in the United States. It is obvious to us that our health care system, Medicare, works well, protects all Australians, and has not endangered our liberty. But the quotes above are not from the Obamacare furor. They are taken from Australian public debate in the early
1970s when the Australian government first proposed Medibank — which became today’s Medicare.

Feeling was so strong that “Freedom funds” were established by the Australian Medial Association. Doctors’ clinics were used as campaign centers to display posters and distribute leaflets and car bumper stickers to patients in an effort to turn them against Medibank.

The General Practitioners Society distributed a letter that read, in part: “The control of our country
has fallen into the hands of socialists ... The fight that the GPS is spearheading is basically a fight for freedom — not just freedom for doctors — but freedom for you, for your children and for all people in the country.”

As an Australian I find this quaint and laughable now. An overwhelming percentage of Australians are happy with the system — including doctors. It is not perfect and tweaks have been and will continue to be made, but everyone now takes it as a staple of Australian life. Medicare provides free hospital services for public patients in public hospitals, subsidizes private patients for hospital
services and provides benefits for consultations with GPs or specialists at an average of 80 percent of the fee. Australians pay a Medicare levy, which is currently set at 1.5 percent of taxable income.

When I was a young child, however, there was no Medibank or Medicare. My family could not afford medical care except in case of dire need. A visit to the doctor was debated long and hard, and my father tried to “treat” us as well as he could. A deep and long gash on my arm from a broken bottle? Not stiches, but Elastoplast to hold the edges together. Result: a permanent wide scar. That scar is completely
unimportant, but the damage to my ankle from an accident at the age of 6 that was not treated as it should have been may now necessitate an operation to fuse it.

That was the worst that happened to me before we were able to go to the doctor when we needed to. Now no Australian has to fear the cost of illness. The American atrocity of families being bankrupted because of serious illness is unimaginable to us. And we did not become communists. Or even socialists!

My blog about life in America is at

Dr. Nayano Taylor-Neumann Cumberland

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  • If we don’t sell it to them, somebody else will

    The front page article on coal exports by AP writer Dina Cappiello is one of the most asinine and biased “news” articles I’ve read (“Not in my backyard: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad,” July 29 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 30, 2014

  • Research cost of watershed plan before implementing it

    July 30, 2014

  • ‘Prayers in the Park’ event slated Aug. 18 in Johnstown

    July 30, 2014

  • Not a villain Not a villain

    Time was that we looked for heroes. Heroes of the make-believe variety have sold a lot of comic books. We also had real-life heroes like Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, whose deaths the whole nation mourned.
    These days, we seem to be more interested in looking for villains. “Vote for me because I’m the good guy” has taken a back seat to “Don’t vote for him, because he’s the bad guy.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Other groups get county funds, so should CHCO

    At a recent county commissioner meeting, members of the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization, Maryland Delegate LeRoy Myers Jr. and Pastor Alfred Deas of the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Cumberland attended to request from the commissioners $5 dollars of marriage license money be permanently allocated to the CHCO (“Cemetery group renews funding request,” July 25 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 29, 2014

  • No public funding for extremist organization

    Once again, the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization has asked the Allegany County commissioners for public funding (“Cemetery group renews funding request,” July 25 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 29, 2014

  • About time About time

    Although many Cumberland streets are in need of repair and improvements, the decision by city and county officials to address Greene Street is a good one.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why are fair officials targeting firefighters?

    The Allegany County Fair has been known for its Demolition Derby for a long time. Several years back the operation of the derby was awarded to the local Cresaptown Volunteer Fire Department.

    July 28, 2014

  • Here’s a time when W.Va. law took precedence over Md. law

     There may be an applicable precedent concerning any assumption that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority (PHAA) can choose to ignore West Virginia territorial state laws.

    July 28, 2014

  • Citizens don’t want Terrapin Run; remove it from the plan

    July 28, 2014