Sunday, September 16, 2007

That Wonderful "Free" Canadian Healthcare. Again

The Toronto Star first carried the story headlined “Stronach travels to U.S. for cancer treatment” on Sept.14, 2007.

Here’s a view from a blogspot site, “The Smallest Minority”, posted by Kevin (Sept.16, 2007) titled: “That Wonderful “Free” Canadian Healthcare. Again”, which comments on some of the issues mentioned in the Star's report:

[“Belinda Stronach, the MP for Newmarket-Aurora and former cabinet minister, travelled outside Canada's health-care system to California for some of her breast cancer treatment earlier this year.
Really! You don't say!

Stronach, diagnosed in the spring with a type of breast cancer that required a mastectomy and breast reconstruction, went to California in June at her Toronto doctor's suggestion, a spokesperson confirmed.
THAT referral I find fascinating.

"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 Greg MacEachern, Stronach's assistant and spokesperson. Speed was not the issue, MacEachern said – it was more to do with the type of surgery she and her doctor agreed was best for her, and where it was best performed. The type of cancer Stronach had is called DCIS, ductal carcinoma in situ, one of the more treatable forms.
Why would the story even suggest that speed might be "the issue"? Could it be that there are waiting time issues for cancer surgery in Canada? And you mean she couldn't get superior treatment in CUBA??

Stronach, who has announced she is leaving politics to return to executive duties at her father's Magna empire, paid for the procedure.
An option not open, I would imagine, to a lot of Canadians. So what happens to them?

"As we said back in June when we confirmed the surgery, this is a personal and private matter between Belinda, her family and her physicians. I think you'll understand that because of respect for Belinda's privacy, we refrained from offering specific details around her medical treatment," MacEachern said. It is unusual for a federal politician to travel outside Canada for private medical treatment, especially given the hallowed status of the Canadian, publicly financed health-care system in the realm of political debate.
Is it actually rare to do it, or is it just rare to admit it?

MacEachern stressed that Stronach's decision had nothing to do with her confidence – or lack of it – in Canada's cancer-treatment facilities or public health care.
Which makes me wonder why she didn't utilize them.

He pointed out that there is a cancer-care facility in Newmarket named after the Stronach family, after Frank Stronach donated $8 million toward its construction in 2004.
Which makes me really wonder why she didn't utilize them.

"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 said.
Well of course! It's there and it's "free." Who wouldn't use it for sniffles, scrapes and minor emergencies?

"This was about a specific health-care procedure, unrelated to any views about the quality of Canadian health care, a decision based on medical advice and a referral from her Toronto physicians, and just one part of several areas of treatment. Belinda has nothing but praise for the community of health-care professionals in Toronto who supported and treated her throughout the last six months."
Here I call "bullshit!" It was absolutely related to "views about the quality of Canadian health-care." It was about the ability to get superior quality care in America since she could afford it, because the American medical system allows for innovation, experimentation, and advancements that government-run heathcare systems do not.

MacEachern did not want to answer questions in detail about the type of surgery, what she paid for it or where exactly it was performed in California.He did say, however, that Stronach underwent the operation in June, roughly around the time she would have had the procedure had she remained in Canada.
How "roughly"? I really want to know. And would it have been the same procedure, or something different?

The Canadian Cancer Society also says it is impossible to determine how many citizens of this country travel each year to the United States for private cancer treatment, since records are only kept if they apply in some way for compensation.
There's a fascinating tidbit of information I was not aware of.

Similarly, the U.S. Cancer Society says it is impossible to calculate, even roughly, how much Stronach paid for her treatment in California, since costs vary so much from state to state and even within cities.
The costs vary here because of the law of supply and demand. Those with far better procedures and reputations have far higher demands, and can (and do) charge more. Those who can afford it, pay it. Those who cannot must choose other options. This is "unfair." But it beats, IMHO being told you will go to this doctor, you will have this procedure, your appointment is six months in the future, and you have no other option available to you - which is what most socialized medicine systems eventually devolve into once they discover that attempting to centrally control health care (or pretty much anything) is a failing game. Health care is not a "right." If you doubt that, then explain why Britain's Tory party wants to deny health care to people who live "unhealthy lifestyles"? It would appear that their recommendations are already being implemented.” ]

We’re now in the middle of an election campaign for the Oct.10, 2007 Ontario provincial election. Healthcare policies, funding, and delivery by the state-run monopoly is largely the sole responsibility of the provincial government. Healthcare is the single costliest provincial government ministry, eating up roughly $38 billion tax dollars this year; yet citizens are being forced to shuffle off to Buffalo and beyond for their healthcare needs which Ontario’s Liberal-run health system cannot provide at home. And the governing Liberals don’t want to debate healthcare reform. Let’s remember what Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty himself said - he stands against the dreaded “Americanization” of our healthcare system! He panders this rhetoric, this kind of politically-convenient bogeyman even though, try as they might, the left can’t help but now see that our so-called universal socialized health monopoly is failing those very people it was meant to help! When even a Canadian with such a high profile as Ms. Stronach (who was once seen as a potential prime minister of this country) chooses to leave Canada because she couldn’t get treated here by our much-vaunted health monopoly, then something is very wrong.
Why is Ontario’s health minister, George Smitherman, who’s now running for re-election, not being held accountable for his health-scare system’s hypocritical failings? How long do Smitherman and his Liberals think they can prolong their dirty little secret, that Ontario is using(abusing?) the States as our unofficial medical-outsourcing safety-valve? How much longer will the Liberals continue to brag about their so-called ‘healthcare accomplishments’, while at the same time sneering at and contemptuously deriding that very same American system which Canadians are forced to turn to? Maybe such great fonts of knowledge like Michael Moore can explain, in his next mock-umentary, why the grass is greener on the other side; why, if Canada’s sicko socialized health-system is so good, many Canadians are fleeing to the States to obtain their treatment; why banning an individual patient’s consumer choice in healthcare is a cause-celebre for the left on both sides of our border?

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