Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Another Canadian patient forced to U.S. for treatment due to long Ontario wait lists.

This from Tom Blackwell (National Post, Sep.6, 2007):

"Lawsuit challenges ban on private care.
Patient Treated In U.S.; Wait list almost cost Ontario woman her eyesight.

“TORONTO - It cost her $95,000, but Shona Holmes says she would be blind today if she had not sought diagnosis, then treatment for a rare eye condition in the United States, circumventing months-long wait lists in Ontario.

Her unsettling case has added ammunition to a lawsuit filed yesterday that seeks to strike down provincial bans on private medicine, private MRI clinics and private health insurance.
Opening the door to for-profit health care would make the system more efficient and curb the kind of delays that threatened Mrs. Holmes' eyesight, argues the conservative advocacy group behind the suit.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation, which is financing a similar case in Alberta, hopes to eventually bring the issue before the Supreme Court of Canada, which has already ruled that Quebec's prohibition on private health insurance is illegal unless health care queues are cut.
"France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and Japan have virtually no waiting lists, and all of these countries allow various kinds of private health care," said John Carpay of the foundation. "Canada is unique in the world, along with North Korea and Cuba, in making it illegal."

Critics, however, say that evidence shows that private medicine would not help reduce the waiting-list problem, and called the lawsuit a threat to the positive aspects of medicare.
Proponents of the case are taking advantage of people like Mrs. Holmes, charged Doris Grinspun, executive director of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.

"What to me is so distressing, is when people start to prey on the vulnerability of patients to further their ideological agenda," she said. "I think it is reprehensible."

Mrs. Holmes told a news conference organized by the foundation the costs she rung up have been "financially devastating," requiring her husband to hold down two jobs and the family to remortgage their house.

The province has so far refused to reimburse her.

The Ontario woman said later, however, that allowing private health care is not necessarily the key to solving problems like hers.

What is important is that the system offer the kind of patient-centred, compassionate
and speedy service she received from the Mayo Clinic.

"Free [taxpayer-funded] health care is a wonderful thing, if you can access it," she said.
"It is wonderful that it is free but if you have no access to it, it is of no value."

The foundation hopes to capitalize on the Supreme Court's Chaoulli decision, which said Quebec must either significantly reduce waiting times or lift its prohibition on citizens taking out private health insurance.

The court ruled that the ban violated Quebec's Charter of Rights, though the judges were evenly divided on whether it contravened the federal Charter, leaving the law in the rest of Canada less clear.

The Ontario case was launched on behalf of both Mrs. Holmes 43, a self-employed mother of two from Hamilton, Ont., and Lindsay McCreith, a retired body shop owner who paid for an MRI and brain-tumour surgery in Buffalo after being told he would have to wait months to see a specialist in Ontario.

The statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court yesterday argues provincial laws that bar doctors from billing patients directly -- effectively banning private medicine -- deny patients access to timely care, and so violate the right to life and security of the person guaranteed by the Charter's Section 7.

It makes similar arguments about the ban on private health insurance and private MRI facilities.
Mrs. Holmes began suffering vision problems and other symptoms in mid-March, 2005.
An MRI she received seven weeks later revealed she had a brain tumour between her optic chiasm -- where nerves from the eyes cross over each other -- and pituitary gland.

Nevertheless, she said she was forced to wait until mid-July and mid-September respectively to see an endocrinologist and neurologist.

Worried about her fast-deteriorating eyesight, Mrs. Holmes travelled in June to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, which concluded the tumour was responsible for her vision problems and recommended it be removed immediately to save her eyesight, and possibly her life.
She returned to Ontario, but the neurosurgeon she saw there said additional tests and examinations were necessary, meaning delays of several more weeks.

Mrs. Holmes finally decided to return to the Mayo Clinic and have the cyst removed.
Within 10 days of the Aug. 1 surgery, her full vision had been restored."

What’s disgusting is that pro-medicare advocates, like Doris Grinspun, prey upon patients by simply propagating the mantra that Ontario’s healthcare works, when in fact, again, it didn’t.

Another Canadian patient was forced to travel to the U.S.for treatment because the reprehensible ideological healthcare monopoly Grinspun so cherishes, failed to deliver.

Again, when socialist healthcare rhetoric met medical reality, it was Mayo-1, Ontario-no score.

Please, do not tell Michael Moore of these anomalies in sicko North Nirvana.

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