Paging Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MD…

Here’s an MP cast in the mold of Preston Manning and the rest of his Reformatory ilk:

Canadians must embrace the resources locked within the private sector if we are going to have a sustainable health care system.

We are careening into a brick wall where health care costs are rising at over seven per cent a year while revenues are increasing at only four per cent a year. This is due to our aging population, more expensive technologies, and a shrinking workforce. Baby boomers are retiring and our reproduction rate of 1.7 children per woman sits well below the rate of 2.1 that is needed to just maintain our population. Health costs continue to exceed resources year-in and year-out. This translates into hospitals withholding care from sick patients (rationing), previously medically insured services not being covered anymore (de-listing), and additional fees being charged to the patient for services rendered. This has resulted in longer waiting times, medical personnel leaving the profession because they are fed up with being unable to care for their patients, reduced access to care for those in need and, most importantly, people enduring needless pain and suffering while they wait an excessively long time for care. This situation is not going to get better, only worse.

Only one source that can provide the extra monies we need to fund our medical needs: the private sector.

In order for this to happen we must get serious about reforming our health system and not tinkering with it. First, the Canada Health Act (CHA) must be modernized to allow patients to pay for care if they wish, in entirely separate facilities funded solely by the private sector. Individuals who go to these centres would be paying for care out of their own pocket or through private insurance they have purchased. By leaving the public system, they will be shortening the queues for those who are waiting. People using private facilities from time to time would also be free to access the public system that their taxes are paying for. Private facilities would act as a release valve and would in effect be subsidizing the public system. Physicians and other medical personnel would work in both systems.

We cannot continue to wrap ourselves in the CHA, hold onto shibboleths and demonize those who are trying to modernize our obsolete healthcare system. It must be overhauled in order to fulfill its ultimate objective, which is to ensure that all Canadians, regardless of income, will have timely access to the quality care they need when they fall ill and that the length and quality of our lives will be the best it can be.

Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MD, should be outraged! Will she be? Who is this heretic? Is it Stephen Harper, is it Stockwell Day? Maxime Bernier?

No, it’s MP Keith Martin, a practising doctor and a Liberal.

Thanks Dr. Martin for advancing the debate on the evolution of healthcare to address modern and future needs. Can we have more of it?

Liberals on Quebec healthcare

April 8th, 2010, Michael Ignatieff:

To that end [Ignatieff] welcomed the provincial Liberal budget idea of looking into new ways to finance the health-care system — possibly through new fees. He said the provinces have to be allowed to advance ideas on their own.

“We have to be open to letting the provinces experiment within the framework of the Canadian law,” Ignatieff said. “We have to protect universal access to the health system. The government of Quebec knows it.

“I salute the fact it is launching a debate that is important for all Canadians.”

April 7th, 2010, Carolyn Bennett:

The Zombie of Health Care Policy: User Fees

Dr. Bob Evans has called user fees the ‘zombie’ of health care policy – just when you think that the evidence has killed them dead – it rises again. It is like a bad video game…. user fees keep coming back from the dead.

The government of Quebec has said in the budget speech that it will enter into consultations re this user fee proposal. It should be rejected based upon evidence alone.

I am concerned that the budget document states: ‘In that respect, the Canada Health Act should not impede the search for solutions that will ensure long-term funding for our health care system.’

I would interpret that to mean that they KNOW this is OUTSIDE the act …

The backlash in Quebec has begun…. we need all Canadians to educate themselves and immunize themselves against this ‘zombie’ of health care policy. It may like a simple fix but it is bad policy – bad for health outcomes and bad for the solidarity that we have in Canada to help one another when fellow citizens bear the burden of sickness.

UPDATE: Ignatieff flip-flops… April 14th, 2010, after caucus:

Quebec’s proposal to charge $25 for a visit to the doctor would violate the Canada Health Act, according to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff who departed sharply Wednesday from earlier indications that he was not opposed to the idea.

“I want to make it very clear that our party, and I personally, am a passionate defender of the Canada Health Act and we understand that provinces are facing substantial challenges facing the financing of their health care systems but we wanted to say that . . . if the government of any province were to introduce user fees it is our belief that that would be in contravention to the Canada Health Act and we would oppose it.”