Sunday, September 16, 2007

Liberal MP flees Canada for cancer care in California News (Sept.14, 2007) reported:

Liberal MP Belinda Stronach, who is battling breast cancer, travelled to California last June for an operation that was recommended as part of her treatment, says a report.
Stronach's spokesman, Greg MacEachern, told the Toronto Star that the MP for Newmarket-Aurora had a "later-stage" operation in the U.S. after a Toronto doctor referred her.
"Belinda had one of her later-stage operations in California, after referral from her personal physicians in Toronto. Prior to this, Belinda had surgery and treatment in Toronto, and continues to receive follow-up treatment there," said MacEachern.
He said speed was not the reason why she went to California.
Instead, MacEachern said the decision was made because the U.S. hospital was the best place to have it done due to the type of surgery required…"In fact, Belinda thinks very highly of the Canadian health-care system, and uses it when needed for herself and her children, as do all Canadians. As well, her family has clearly demonstrated that support," MacEachern told the Star.
MacEachern did not offer any other details regarding what type of surgery Stronach had or what she paid for it.

Again we see an example of the Canadian system failing an individual citizen. Why wasn’t the treatment for Stronach - or any other Ontario citizen, for that matter - available in Ontario, or Canada?
Was it deemed "experimental" under OHIP's rules? And, if her treatment was recommended by a Canadian doctor, yet the “best place to have it done” was not in Canada, but in California (for reasons no-one - especially no Liberal - has made clear) then why should Stronach, as a Canadian citizen, have to pay for this treatment?
Is her unspecified treatment not covered by OHIP?
Do other Canadians with these same symptoms have access to this same treatment? Will they be sent to California, or will they simply have to settle for our second-rate 'one-tier' monopoly?
It’s sadly ironic that her spokesman claims Stronach “thinks very highly of the Canadian healthcare system”. Well, don’t we all, in theory - until we realize that for many Canadians, this means being outsourced to the States for treatment unavailable here in Canada. (Golly, don’t tell Michael Moore about that)

Here we are, in the middle of the 2007 Ontario election campaign, yet Liberal health minister George Smitherman ignores this further example of the duplicity of his fabled one-tier socialized-medicine health system.
If high-profile citizens/politicians like Stronach are forced to leave Canada (as apparently, this was not a 'wait-time' issue) for the States (due to the availability of their advanced technology), what are the rest of us getting from Smitherman’s system?
Ontarians are forced to go to the States because Ontario’s much-vaunted health-system can’t keep its promises, and because we have no alternatives to the tyranny of state-run monopoly health-care.
As many Ontarians are forced to shuffle off to Buffalo and beyond, to obtain their healthcare, Smitherman refuses to allow U.S. operators to bring their expertise to us; or to allow us to buy health insurance to ameliorate our options should his health monopoly, as it so often does, fail to deliver timely treatment.
Maybe to reinforce to all Canadians how much of a disaster Tommy Douglas's health-scare system has become, Smitherman will next, along with his other bans, also make it illegal for Ontarians to cross the border to get the healthcare his system is depriving them in Canada.
That'll show 'em, won't it!?
And if patients, like Stronach, who must go to the States for treatment say they chose to pay for their treatment because, magnanimously, they didn't want to be a 'burden to the system'  -- well , why can't others do that as well??
And, why then, would Ontarians have to do so by leaving their country??
Why can't we achieve this level of treatment options in Ontario?
Why maintain this glorious lie of universal healthcare when we're regularly seeing its glaring failures?
And, yet, some still see this as a triumph of Canadian healthcare!

Why is 'healthcare' not Liberal Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty’s top campaign priority? He’s claiming that school funding is his defining issue in this election! McGuinty’s credibility is demonstrated by all his broken promises made since 2003, when, for example, he famously promised to hire “8000 nurses”, which he could not provide; in 2007, he’s astoundingly promising “9000 nurses” more if he's elected again! He’s promised to hire more than he failed to deliver last time around! How can we trust anything this premier says?
Health care reform should be the Ontario government’s top priority.

Some comments posted on CTV’s website (Sept.14, 2007) regarding the Stronach story were:

Jim: “Sure, she should get her treatment where she can if she is able to pay for it. The story here isn't about those who get treatment in the states. It's about a liberal politician that is part of a political party that espoused the Canadian public system and vowed to ensure that no private health care was ever going to usurp the current system. She is an MP for the party that relentlessly attacked the conservatives for their "hidden agenda" to privatize health care.The irony and hypocrisy is the story here. The rich get health care, the rest of use wait in line. All because of liberal fearmongering that does not allow for a real debate on the state of the health care system in Canada.”

Joe: "She joins a lengthy list of Canadians, including politicians who go to the United States to get treated. Unfortunately, the mythology that state run medicine is superior to that of the private sector, takes precedent over the health of the individual Canadian.Best wishes Belinda.”

Paul: "People are commenting 'if I had money'. Well, if you do not have money in the state, you don't even get a basic treatment. Those people who aren't covered with insurance, there is no triple bypass surgery without money. Never hear of "Yes, $100,000 US$ please." How many of the readers know people who only has provincial health care coverage? I know many. Imagine if it were private health care only system...these people would be doomed.What if your kids just graduated living away from you, who is not under your employer coverage, require hospital stay. You'll be selling off your RRSP, borrowing money, etc. Canadian system is pretty good for the amount of taxes we pay. I personally think taxes for people who makes over $200,000 should be increased. Some may say discourage them to work harder - look at other way, it'll give opportunity to people who makes less to 'part' of the high income earner's job.”

Richard Etienne: "Paul writes: " the state, you don't even get a basic treatment." If he means "in the States," he's wrong. One reason insurance costs so much is that nobody can be turned away for health care whether they can pay or not, so Americans with insurance pick up the tab for those who don't have any - illegals, people using the emergency room as primary care, etc.Then he writes: "Canadian system is pretty good for the amount of taxes we pay." I couldn't disagree more. I had to take my father to Cleveland for a hip replacement because he couldn't get it done here after 14 months of waiting. I had to go to the States to get a bone rebroken and reset after our system screwed it up and told me it'd be months to get it fixed. I have paid into the system for years, and it's never there when I need it.Lastly, he writes: "I personally think taxes for people who makes over $200,000 should be increased. Some may say discourage them to work harder - look at other way, it'll give opportunity to people who makes less to 'part' of the high income earner's job." I make over $200,000 but I also work 70 hours a week. I don't think people who make less are entitled to my money, and if my taxes were to increase I'd go back to a 35-hour work week and make a lot less. It just isn't worth it.”

Jeff D: "Paul - you missed the whole point! If my money is good in the US, why isn't it good in Canada? Hopefully one day the Liberals and NDP will get off the soap box and Canadians will have the opportunity to spend their after tax dollars on whatever they choose to - including additional health care, if that's what we want to do!”

Dan: "I am all for private health care inside Canada. I'm just outraged at the naked hypocrisy of this ex-politician who preached against "two-tier" embracing it when the chips are down. Private health care in Canada now!”

chk: "Belinda Stronach: The new face of the two-tiered health care system. I'm all for the two-tiered health care system - I've seen it work in Minnesota. However, as a "politician" you'd think she'd be more mindful and supportive of the health care system her party promotes. Did she also check out the homecare and palliative programs while in California? Heaven forbid she should have to endure the same delays and waiting lists that other Canadians with cancer have to put up with. Lead by example Belinda!”

Manual: "I see a lot of people on here arguing that we should leave Ms. Stronach alone, and that what she chooses to do with her own money is her own business. I agree 100% - however ordainary Canadians cannot afford to travel to the United states for faster, better hospital care and our current government-run health care monopoly denies Canadians the right to access private medical services which could possibly save their lives. We should not condemn her for looking after her health - we should condemn her for towing her party's line that no Canadian should have the right to look after their own health care, with their own money, while doing just that. Let all Canadians have the right to look after their health as they see fit.”

Mike: "She is just one of many politicians who whine about private medical care then when they are in need - guess what - there they go. Another Liberal MP caught living a double standard. There is nothing wrong with private medical care as long as they stop bashing it and being hypocritical about it.”

Vince M.: "This, in the end, is not a story about Belinda. it is a story about hypocrisy of the Liberals. The hypocrisy of (when some political gain can be made of it) defending a health system that doesn't work then going elsewhere when the chips are down.I wish you well Belinda, but it would be nice to be able to wish the same to all the other cancer sufferers that can't afford to go to the US for treatment. No matter how it is worded we are saddled with a system YOU think is good enough for the rest of us, just not good enough for you."

* * *
Canada's destructive Liberals will continue to downplay and sneer at these kinds of comments as anecdotal, dismissing them as anomalies; as ‘temporary bumps in the road’, which only need to be paved with more government cash to fulfill their promise. There is something wrong here.

This reminds me of  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s closing line in his masterpiece tragedy The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

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