Those Canadian hip replacements

THOSE CANADIAN HIP REPLACEMENTS…. Long-time regulars may know I have quite a few “conversation enders.” These are comments that lead you to know, the moment you hear them, that the writer/speaker is either clueless or intellectually dishonest, and there’s really no reason to engage the person in a serious dialog.

We all have them. When I hear, “Tax cuts are fiscally responsible because they pay for themselves,” it’s a conversation ender. When I hear, “Evolution is just a theory,” it’s a conversation ender. When someone says, “Global warming can’t be real because it’s cold outside,” it’s a conversation ender. More recently, references to “death panels,” Democrats’ similarities to Nazis, or questions about the president’s birthplace are automatic conversation enders.

But one of the all-time classic conversation enders is the belief that seniors can’t get hip-replacement surgeries in Canada. Here’s Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri on the House floor yesterday:

“I just hit 62, and I was just reading that in Canada [if] I got a bad hip I wouldn’t be able to get that hip replacement that [Rep. Dan Lungren] got, because I’m too old! I’m an old geezer now and it’s not worth a government bureaucrat to pay me to get my hip fixed.”

This is comically wrong, and it’s been debunked over and over again. For one thing, the comparison itself is nonsensical, since Democrats aren’t proposing a Canadian-style system.

But more important is the fact that seniors in Canada get hip-replacement surgeries all the time: “‘At least 63 percent of hip replacements performed in Canada last year…were on patients age 65 or older.’ In 2006-2007, an additional 1,577 hip replacement surgeries were performed in Canada on patients over 85.”

As it turns out, just a few months ago, Rep. Roy Blunt, Akin’s fellow Missouri Republican, made the identical claim. When it was proven false, Blunt walked it back and vowed not to repeat the bogus claim again.

If only Todd Akin paid closer attention.

Update: Paul Krugman takes this a couple of steps further, adding some socialized-medicinal details that I’d overlooked.