The 800 pound gorillas (2)

About six months ago I talked about the threat to everything that relies, even remotely, on downloadyour tax dollars because of the 800 pound gorillas that are in every provincial and territorial living room, about to smash the furniture and china education and transport and social service programmes because, quite simply we cannot ~ many of us actually refuse to even consider ~ containing health care costs by allowing, even requiring some private (insurance) money.

I laid out the problem in February. Put most simply too many of us will not restrain our demands for “free” health care ~ I know it’s not you, but it is your grandmother and your brother-in-law, and your colleague in the workplace and your neighbour down the street ~ and since we have a “single payer” system (just like Cuba and North Korea), but (unlike Cuba and North Korea) our politicians are elected, there is no incentive to tamper with something that way too many of us think is “free.”

The issue has come up, according to a CBC News report, in Vancouver where “an expert report commissioned by the federal government for a court case in British Columbia in which the government sought and received intervener statuslists many potential negative consequences if there were to be more access to private health care in Canada, including greater income inequality, more people in dire financial straits, and even doctors encouraging longer wait times in the public system in order to nudge patients into the private system.

Of course there is another side to the story: ““It’s the exact opposite,” said Dr. Brian Day, medical director at the Cambie Surgery Centre,” in the CBC News report … “Day, who is past president of the Canadian Medical Association, points to international criteria that rank Canada’s health-care system poorly compared to those of other industrialized nations … [he noted that] … The Commonwealth Fund, for example, put out a report in 2014 that ranked Canada 10th out of 11 countries, ahead of only the United States. It looked at measures including efficiency, access to care and equity … [and] … “All of the countries ranked ahead of us have a private hybrid system operating along a public system,” said Day, citing France and Germany as examples … [further] … He argues more private care would decrease wait lists in the public system … [and] … As for the claim the private system will siphon off the best-trained doctors, Day compares it to public and private schools in Canada, which he says co-exist well.

Everything I have read suggests that Dr Day is right and the government’s expert (John Frank, a Canadian physician who is now chairman of public health research and policy at the University of Edinburg) is “situating the appreciation” as we used to say in the army when someone drew a conclusion and then sought to arrange the facts to support it, ignoring those that did not.

downloadDr Day also says, and I agree, that “He expects the Cambie case will eventually end up before the Supreme Court of Canada and argues it’s a waste of tax dollars for the federal government to intervene now, particularly given that some provinces already allow private insurance for medically necessary procedures.” But this is not about money or health care or good (or bad) public policy. The Laurentian Elites have decided that they, and only they, are qualified to decide these issues for you and me. Doctors and judges and accountants cannot be trusted to make good, sound medical or legal or financial decisions about this. It is, after all, part of Pierre Trudeau’s “legacy” so it is sacred to the Laurentian Elites who will do anything to preserve the policies and programmes put in place Canada’s worst ever prime minister. They were furious when Prime Minister Harper allowed similar initiatives in provinces ~ as he should have because health care in a provincial responsibility ~ and now that they have one of their own in office they plan to stop any spread of innovations that might save money and lives.

But, the simple fact is that we, Canada, are out of step with the majority of OECD countries who have both better healthcare outcomes and lower costs. We need a government of grownups who will amend the Canada Health Act to allow provinces to introduce health/medical insurance systems that are survivable … before the current system tears too much out of our social safety net.

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