Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley found herself in a Twitter feud with the people of Finland on Thursday, after she commented unfavorably on their health care system.
Haley, a savvy politician who as President Donald Trump’s United Nations ambassador from 2017 until December 2018, regularly topped opinion polls as the most popular member of his administration, ignited the Finns when she tried to take a swipe at a tweet by Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, who has made universal health care one of his signature platforms, said it costs an average of $12,000 for a woman to have a baby in the United States, while in Finland it costs only $60.
Haley, who is touted as a rising star in the Republican Party and a potential presidential candidate in 2024, shot back that, “Health care costs are too high that is true but comparing us to Finland is ridiculous. Ask them how their health care is. You won’t like their answer.”
It is more likely that it is the former U.N. ambassador who does not like their answer.
The reaction was immediate, with hundreds of people identifying themselves as Finns happy with their health care system offering statistics and anecdotes about how good it is.
While personal income tax rates are very high — 51.60 percent — Finns get many services in return, not just health care. But for new mothers, the system offers comprehensive services.
While the charge to the patient who gives birth is only $60, the government picks up the rest of the cost. In addition, new mothers receive a generous care package with clothes and baby care products. Mothers and their babies also get free medical checkups. Day care is heavily subsidized and mothers get at least four months’ paid maternity leave.
And according to the World Health Organization, Finland has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the world.
South Carolina, which Haley governed from 2011-2017 when she left to join the Trump administration, has seen its maternal mortality rates drop slowly, but they still remain among the highest in the United States. There are also wide disparities in who is affected. Many more African-American mothers are likely to die from complications of childbirth than white mothers in the southern state.
Haley’s former counterpart at the United Nations, Finnish Ambassador Kai Sauer, also sent out a string of tweets touting his nation’s health care system. He noted in addition to its strong record on preventing maternal mortality, Finland has the world’s third-lowest infant mortality rate and the second-lowest mortality rate for cancer in the European Union.
Sauer’s tweets came several hours after Haley’s original one and he apologized for that noting, “We were out celebrating our rank as the happiest country of the world.”
Since leaving her U.N. post at the end of December, Haley has been spending much of her time on the social media platform tweeting about lighter fare, including learning how to use the taxi service app Uber, her new favorite lipstick and her beloved dog, Bentley.
She has also set up a new advocacy group, “Stand for America” that will focus on “promoting public policies that strengthen America’s economy, culture, and national security.”
Last month, U.S. aerospace manufacturer Boeing announced that it had nominated Haley to join its board of directors. Company shareholders will vote on whether to give her a seat at their annual shareholders meeting on April 29.
Boeing has recently come under intense scrutiny after two of its 737 Max aircraft crashed in the space of five months, killing all aboard.
Haley, a strong advocate for Israel during her U.N. tenure, was recently honored by having a commemorative coin struck with her image on it by three Israeli religious organizations.
According to the Associated Press, the coin features Haley’s face set with the U.N. building in the background and goes for $65 in silver and $90 in gold.
While at the U.N., Haley was a vocal supporter of Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; to slash funding to the U.N. agency that cares for Palestinian refugees; and to withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is seen by critics as overly focused on Israel.
Haley is also hitting the lucrative speakers’ circuit. Last week, she became the first woman to give the keynote address at the Society of The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and June 3, she is scheduled to be the main speaker in Washington at the Campaign for Life Gala, which advocates against abortion. Last year, Trump delivered the keynote address.
Haley’s post at the United Nations remains unfilled nearly three months after her departure. Trump’s first choice for the post, former State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, withdrew her name from the process. On Feb. 22, the president announced he would nominate Kelly Craft, a top Republican donor and U.S. ambassador to Canada, to the post, but her name has not yet been sent to the Senate for approval.