Actor Terrence Howard Touts Communist Cuba’s Health Care System

By Nicholas Ballasy | June 29, 2009 | 10:42 PM EDT

( – Actor Terrence Howard cited Communist Cuba’s health care system as a good example of providing care for all people in contrast with health care in the United States, which he said was inadequate and resulted in people dying unnecessarily because of the costs for certain treatment and lack of access to doctors.

“Well, what’s interesting is we’re level with third world countries in poverty but some of these third world countries still have individuals – they have a health care system – you can go to Cuba and have anything done even if you’re not a Cuban citizen,” Howard told in reference to President Barack Obama’s plan for government-run health care.

“You can have the medical, your medical needs met” in Cuba, said Howard, who was attending the Children Uniting Nations Gala in Washington, D.C. “The fact that we can’t do that here – the fact that my mother, you know, died from colon cancer because she couldn’t afford the million dollars necessary to have the operation and the chemo and the countless others that are dying now because they can’t get to a doctor because they can’t afford that – the preventative care that’s necessary.”

Cuba’s health care system has been criticized for its high doctor-to-patient ratio, as well as poor hospital conditions and lack of adequate drugs for treatment, including basic items such as aspirin. There essentially is a two-tier health care system in Cuba: one for tourists and government elites and one for the common people.
As the National Post has reported:  “After the Soviet Union stopped sending Cuba US$5-billion in annual funding to prop up its economy, the health care system, like most social services, fell on difficult times. In common with other buildings on the Communist island, hospitals are falling apart, surgeons lack basic supplies and must re-use latex gloves. Patients must buy their own sutures on the black market and provide bedsheets and food for extended hospital stays.”
“Antibiotics, one of the most valuable commodities on the cash-strapped Communist island, are in extremely short supply and available only on the black market. Aspirin can be purchased only at government-run dollar stores, which carry common medications at a huge markup in U.S. dollars,” reported The Post.  “This puts them out of reach of most Cubans, who are paid little and in pesos. Their average wage is 300 pesos per month, about $12.”
Despite that, supporters of single-payer health care often point to Cuba as an example of a good health care system because it is government run – no private hospitals are allowed to exist in the country. Howard said a government-run health care system is a “moral responsibility.”

“So, if you have these initiatives to allow the federal government to have a health care system that’s going to be on par or even cheaper than insurance companies, then maybe that’s the steps we need towards moral responsibility,” said Howard, who added that “because there’s a moral responsibility to look after your children -- you don’t let any of your children go without the health care they need.”

Howard also said he is “pretty sure” but not certain that he would buy health insurance from a government-owned health care company.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be something worth buying into because everyone will be connected to it, so I’m pretty sure I will, you know, depending on the options given,” Howard told
“But the fact that they are going to give that opportunity to the rest of the American citizens, even to the immigrants, even to the illegal immigrants, you know, because they want to be here as bad as the rest of the Americans that stole their way here,” he said. “It’s supposed to be a free country – let everyone come in and help build it the way it’s supposed to be.”