PoliZette

Cuba Has Hemisphere’s Best Health System, Connecticut Governor Says

State treasurer candidate Art Linares, son of a Cuban immigrant, rips 'delusional' Malloy

Connecticut’s outgoing Democratic governor this week praised Cuba’s Marxist socialist health care system, drawing a sharp rebuke from a son of Cuban immigrants who is running for state treasurer.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, who is finishing up his second term, was in New Haven on Wednesday to announce a $10 million state grant to expand a health clinic’s drug treatment and mental health programs.

During his address, he said the U.S. public health system had gone downhill since World War II and suggested that Americans look to Cuba for a health care model.

“Quite frankly, as I stand before you today, the best public health system in the Western Hemisphere is actually in Cuba, not the United States,” he said. “The United States has dropped significantly.”

Malloy (pictured above) has a 71 percent disapproval rating in Connecticut, making him the second-most unpopular governor in the country, according to a Morning Consult survey released last month.

Art Linares, a Republican state senator who is running for state treasurer, blasted Malloy.

“I took offense to that,” he told LifeZette. “As the son of a Cuban immigrant, I know the truth, and Gov. Malloy is delusional.”

Kelly Donnelly, a spokesman for the governor, told LifeZette that the governor based his comment on assessments by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other experts.

“It is often heralded as an model for the rest of the world by experts in the field,” she wrote in an email.

By some measures, the Cuban health care system compares favorably to the United States. A study published last year in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs noted that Cuba spends far less as a share of its national income than the United States.

Yet, the paper concluded, Cuba produces results that are comparable or better than the United States on measures like life expectancy, infant mortality, and deaths due to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

“Although Cuban health care providers have less access to technology and supplies, coverage is universal and the system is largely government-run, with the exception of the black market and medical tourism,” the study’s authors wrote.

Still, the researchers found plenty of drawbacks.

“Cuba’s health system is far from perfect,” the study states. “Facilities often lack basic supplies or equipment, physicians receive poor compensation, and many providers defect when serving in foreign medical missions.”

Many would find a system plagued by such problems to be a problematic model for any other country, much less the U.S.

Linares said his grandfather fled Cuba after the government sentenced him to death for promoting free elections. He said his family recently had to take a wheelchair to relatives in Cuba because they could not get one in their home country.

Linares said Malloy’s comments this week are part of a pattern of admiration he has shown toward communism. He pointed to the governor’s appointment of Sharon Palmer as labor commissioner.

In 2014, she celebrated the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party USA. Linares also pointed to a $300,000 grant that the state government gave to a community center that critics alleged was connected to communists.

“This should be a concern to the people of Connecticut who like their private health care.”

“This should be a concern to the people of Connecticut who like their private health care,” he said.

As for the suggestion that Cuba’s health system outperforms America’s, Linares dismissed it as communist propaganda propagated by the Cuban government. He said Cuba has 50,000 health care providers in 68 countries — an important source of revenue for the Cuban government — which has led to a doctor shortage back home.

Christopher Sabatini, an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, wrote in The Washington Post in 2016 that Cuba’s closed system makes reliable data hard to come by.

He wrote that “it appears that the health system used by average Cubans is in crisis,” and pointed to a report by the Institute for War & Peace reporting that hospitals “are generally poorly maintained and short of staff and medicines.”

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Hadley Heath Manning, senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women’s Forum, wrote in the Washington Examiner in 2016 that Cuba’s infant morality rates look better compared to the United States because of different definitions used by the countries. She wrote that Cuba encourages — and even forces — women with high-risk pregnancies to have abortions.

“Woe unto us if we do not learn lessons from Cuba’s fate,” she wrote. “Public health care systems always render this result.”

(photo credit, article image: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy…, CC BY 2.0, by Dannel Malloy)

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PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected].