When right-wing talker Rush Limbaugh praised the U.S. health care system as "just dandy" based on his experiences in a Hawaii hospital, chances are he didn't quite know his words were diametrically opposed to his politics.


"The treatment I received here was the best that the world has to offer," he said of services rendered at Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu.

Hawaii, however, is the closest thing the United States has to socialized medicine; a point that has not gone unnoticed by the Service Employees International Union.

We're thrilled to hear that Limbaugh appreciates Hawaii's exemplary health care system.

Here's why:

1. Hawaii is a shining example of progressive health care reform. In fact, Hawaii is so forward-thinking that the Senate bill excludes Hawaii from some of its provisions, because Hawaii's requirements on employers go farther than the federal legislation.

  • Since 1974, Hawaii has required all employers to provide quality health care benefits to any employee who works 20 hours a week or more. Because of Hawaii's increased coverage, reports the New York Times, "hospital and insurance executives in Hawaii say they have been able to innovate efficiencies. For instance, the state's top three medical providers are adopting electronic medical records -- years ahead of most mainland counterparts."
  • One reporter noted "the medical system in Hawaii is as close to socialized medicine as there is in the United States, and, much of the Democrats reform bill is based in the Hawaii system."

2. Limbaugh stayed at Queen's Medical Center, where nursing staff are represented by the Hawaii Nurses' Association (read: a labor union). The nurses at Queen's are protected by their contract, which adheres to the ANA's safe-staffing principles guaranteeing appropriate staffing levels for any patient care unit.In fact, Hawaii has one of the greatest percentages of organized workers of any state and also had the highest percentage of organized RNs. All private-sector acute care hospital RNs are organized, with just two known exceptions. We're guessing this might have something to do with why Limbaugh found the Hawaii hospital staff's work so "confidence-inspiring."

The group mocks the right-wing host's unknowing double-standard with a headline that reads, "Hell Freezes Over: Rush Limbaugh Loves Union Hospitals and Socialized Medicine".

Limbaugh, 58, who has millions of faithful listeners, declined to take questions, saying he did not want to get into a political discussion in a hospital setting, despite his loaded comments about the health care system.

Limbaugh, however, is quite wealthy and can afford the best health care money can buy, no matter where he is. Across the United States, some 46 million people are unable to afford health insurance which leaves visits to a doctor a luxury for most.

Limbaugh said last week that if President Obama's proposed health insurance reforms were to pass, "people will die."

A Harvard study published by the American Journal of Public Health revealed that over 45,000 Americans die each year for lack of health insurance.

In Hawaii, however, that appears to not be the case at all.

"Hawaii’s health insurance premiums are nearly tied with North Dakota for the lowest in the country, and Medicare costs per beneficiary are the nation’s lowest," the Times noted. Hawaii also has the lowest percentage of uninsured citizens among all 50 states and its residents have a longer life expectancy than Americans in the continental U.S.

With AFP