In public remarks made on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed he helped advise President Barack Obama on the creation of the Affordable Care Act.
Erdoğan, speaking at the opening of a health complex, told a story about meeting a group of tourists in Istanbul who were impressed by the Turkish medical system’s effectiveness. According to Hurriyet Daily News, he said some of the tourists “knew that I would be visiting the United States the following week. They asked me how we could be so successful in healthcare and wanted me to tell about it to Obama.”
The president blamed a “negative reflex” in America for Obamacare’s failure, saying that as a result Obama “could only solve the problem partly.”
He also claimed that European leaders have visited Turkey in attempts to replicate the magic of the country’s health system: “they try to take us as a model and build similar systems in their country.”
Erdoğan was previously prime minister of Turkey, a post he held from 2003 to 2014. His terms as prime minister included a series of health care policy reforms under his Islamist-leaning AKP party. The overhauls included an expansion of the private health market as an alternative to the country’s existing state-funded medical system.
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health continues to dominate the medical market in Turkey. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which tracks economic progress in countries including Turkey, has said the country “has a significant way to travel to deliver high-quality health services to its population.”
Since entering Turkish national politics, Erdoğan has developed something of a reputation for egotism. A proud champion of Turkey’s past as seat of the Ottoman empire, he recently welcomed visitors to his lavish new 1,150-room palace with a phalanx of guards in elaborate historical costume, leading one columnist to ask, “Is Erdogan losing touch with reality?”
And earlier this month, in an instance of self-fulfilling prophecy, a student received a 14-month jail sentence for calling Erdoğan a “dictator.”
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