TL: You really can’t. There’s a willingness on the part of the press to accept what they’re told, without weighing claims and seeing if one claim is more meritorious than another. We have this cult of balance, and it’s a problem.

In the US, you need to remember one thing; what was passed was basically a Republican plan. The ideas had been in the academic literature for years, and they were ideas Republicans would be totally comfortable with. But instead, the Republicans have run against their own plan, so to speak. And when the press fell down on the job of bringing the people along, it made it easy for Republicans to move on this strategy.

CS: In Britain, aspects of this reform were done by a coalition, which we are not used to. It had elements from both parties, which didn’t necessarily fit together well. Once it became controversial in the press, liberal Democrats forced a series of changes onto the bill to address some of the fears that the media had raised. What they did made a coherent piece of legislation a total mess.

TL: I guess we have some similarities here. We’re not really sure how the Affordable Care Act will play out, and you’re not really sure how the NHS reforms are going to play out. We’ll find out!

Related stories:


Healthcare in Great Britain vs. healthcare in the USA: part one

How the phantom of ‘socialized medicine’ came to be

The specter of ‘Socialized Medicine’ rides again


Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.