Veep and Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus confirmed Thursday that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is undergoing treatment. In her announcement, however, Louis-Dreyfus went political, using her illness to push for "universal health care."
“1 in 8 women get breast cancer,” she wrote on Twitter. “Today, I’m the one...let's fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality."
Just when you thought... pic.twitter.com/SbtYChwiEj— Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) September 28, 2017
Julia's rep confirmed her cancer to the Associated Press, but did not give any further details. HBO, which airs Julia's hit show, Veep, pledged their "love and support" to Julia and her family in a statement.
Certainly, we wish Julia all the best, but like Jimmy Kimmel with his son's heart surgery, it's incredibly strange when celebrities — who can afford some of the best health care in the world — take opportunities like this, where they believe they are morally unassailable, to push policies that regular Americans would find desperately wanting — and in some cases, deadly.
Universal health care sounds great, but when the government provides the health care — and pays for it — it also decides what treatments are warranted and appropriate. Without recourse to private alternatives — and the financial largesse it might take to afford treatment, typically in America at places like the Mayo Clinic — patients suffering from illnesses like cancer are often denied important, life saving drugs and treatments, because those treatments are simply too experimental or expensive for a government board.
In the U.K., breast cancer patients struggled for years for access to Kadcyla, a drug that was proven to extend the lives of women in advanced stages of the disease. The National Health Service dismissed the drug out of hand in 2015, saying its price tag per patient was far too high. Only after a public outcry — and after Roche, the manufacturer, started to provide the drug free of charge to select patients — did the NHS reconsider.
In Canada, the country progressives often point to as a model for American health care, coverage for breast cancer treatments varies wildly between provinces. The Canadian Breast Cancer Network says that in many places in Canada, provincial governments, completely unfamiliar with cancer treatments, are making important care decisions, and in some cases, leaving patients to die while government boards assess the utility of various treatments.
Treating everyone for cancer sounds great, but it also costs; universal health care is, of course, free only to people who don't quite realize they pay taxes.