Saturday, August 25, 2007

Consumers have a right to choice in healthcare

This Sept.6, 2006 letter appeared in the St.Catharines Standard, in response to an earlier Aug.26, 2006 Standard  health-care editorial:

Re: "Finding sustainable healthcare solutions", The St. Catharines Standard, Aug. 26, 2006

This fair-minded editorial on healthcare wishfully concluded that: "it's time to put the rhetoric and fear-mongering away if we want to find a sustainable solution to Canadian medicare."
Yet, the accompanying Bruce MacKinnon cartoon, depicting the Canadian Medical Association logo with a dollar sign in the middle, insultingly perpetuates the very dismissive stereotype we need to overcome.
Shall we expect a caricature depicting the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario as greedy lobbyists with their hands in the public pocket, protecting their union-entrenched monopoly from competitive reforms?
Will we see a cartoon depicting Health Minister George Smitherman backing a cash-filled dump truck marked "Liberal tax-surplus" into the sieve marked "OHIP", which leaks into a black hole marked "Failed socialist no-choice healthcare?"
While I echo your position that something has to be done to fix Ontario's broken system, I submit that a fabled "middle ground", while admirable in intent, will pussyfoot around the imbedded socialism at the root of healthcare's sustainability problem.
As demonstrated by many other countries, the much-touted dogma of universal access is not excluded from national health systems that respect and encourage private competition.
Your editorial didn't even mention the 2005 Chaoulli decision, which harshly criticized and invalidated Quebec's ban on private health insurance, and which should be a serious and relevant wake-up call for Ontario's Liberals.
A common chant heard from the anti-choice lib-left is that patients will buy their way to the front of the line. Chaoulli has shown that patients die on their way to the front of the line.
The real debate is whether citizens have the will to de-construct the myths wrapped around Ontario's duplicitous health monopoly and how we can be weaned from our forced dependence on it.
The scope of any worthy health-care debate should clearly encompass more than just the usual unionist smattering of homilies glorifying snake-oil salesman Tommy Douglas.
For the public good, consumer choice in health care should no longer be banned, accursed, and derided. It should be reclaimed as every individual's intrinsic right.
R. Bobak, St. Catharines Standard, Sept.6, 2006

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