When the President’s extraordinary discussion of health care at Blair House was concluding, it was just beginning here in Malta. For several intensely interesting hours thereafter, the U.S. Embassy engaged in an equally extraordinary bit of reverse public diplomacy; that is, America was the student, and this ancient island civilization was the teacher.
As America’s Ambassador here with a penchant for trying to combine an inquisitive academic mind with newly grafted diplomatic effort, I invited the “best and the brightest” of the Malta medical fraternity (and they are legion, including having one of their own as cardiovascular chair at Mayo) to do a thorough public comparison of the universal health care system in Malta with the President’s far more modest, but important, effort at providing health care to millions of uninsured.
Malta has had universal health care for generations, and the discussion took place in the sprawling and new teaching hospital – Mater Dei. That’s right, in Catholic Malta, the public hospital is not at all bashful about acknowledging the mother of God – in name, and as discussed, medical deed.