Thursday, November 26, 2009

Where is Ontario's Chaoulli?

The Calgary Herald reported in "Albertans need to wake up to health care costs, Liepert" (Calgary Herald, Nov.20, 2009, see here):

"Speaking Thursday in Edmonton, Alberta Health Minister Ron Liepert said the province is looking at how to rein in health-care spending. Without providing further details, Liepert said the government has to consider "all means of how we pay for health care."

But he said there are no plans for new taxes or fees.

"I'm not talking about user fees. I'm talking about how can we overall have Albertans recognize the cost of health?" Liepert said.

"Can it continue to be a one-payer system forever?"

Finance Minister Iris Evans added she looks forward to the day Albertans can be shown the true costs of their health-care services, perhaps through some type of electronic records.

"Publicly funded health is, right now, a bottomless pit. We are just continuing to pour money in," Evans said.

Liepert and Evans made their comments the same day the Canadian Institute for Health Information said health-care spending -- on a per person basis -- is increasing across Canada, and is forecasted to be the highest in Alberta."

Wonder when Ontario Liberals McGuinty and Deb Matthews will begin to address this very same issue? Will Ontario health care remain single-payer forever? Has Matthews had enough time in her learning curve as Ontario's chief health care monopolist to think about an answer? George Smitherman realized, and admitted, that Ontario's health care system couldn't do it all, years ago - but of course he then merrily continued to do nothing except promulgate the same monopoly Matthews is now propping up.

Now Christina Spencer writes in "CMA president slams partisan politics over H1N1" (Toronto Sun, posted Nov.25, 2009, here):

"Canada’s top doctor bluntly decried the “nasty” politicking that has erupted around the country’s H1N1 response and challenged federal politicians to hold an open, honest discussion about how to fund future health care.

Wednesday, in her first major speech as head of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Anne Doig told the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto that both doctors and patients are frustrated that politicians “waged a war of words alleging mismanagement of the nation’s response to H1N1.

“As a family physician whose primary focus is her patients, I say this partisan political posturing must stop.”

Instead, she urged politicians to honestly discuss the rising demand for and cost of health services as the boomer generation ages, what she called the “silver tsunami.”

Canadians “have got to realize they can’t afford the health-care system they think they’re paying for. If we want to pay for more and we want to have a solely taxation-based system, then we need to understand what that means,” she told Sun Media.

Instead, “Canada’s federal politicians have completely abdicated their duty to fulfil the legacy of our once proud health system,” she said in her speech. “They prefer to wrap themselves in the Canadian flag, dismissing any criticism of our health-care system as unpatriotic.”

As an example, Doig pointed to the continuing refusal of the Conservative government to release $500 million in promised funding to the Canada Health Infoway, which works on better use of information technology to improve quality of care.

“Unfortunately they haven’t been transparent enough to come forward and tell us what the reason is,” Doig said.

She said improving care and funding needs to be thrashed out long before the First Ministers’ Health Accord expires in 2014. The 2004 accord guaranteed federal funding of $41.2 billion over 10 years.

A recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information said health spending nationwide will surpass $183 billion this year — or $5,452 per capita.

“The current political environment — with its minority parliaments, economic preoccupations and dark deficit clouds on the horizon for the foreseeable future — isn’t exactly conducive to bold, innovative thinking,” Doig warned."

So let's hear from the solemn health care monopolists from all parties (especially from the provinces, which are responsible for health care delivery) explaining how they will fund everything under the sun, including health care, without bloating and bankrupting their treasuries.

Once again - where's the debate?

No one wants to talk about a private-parallel system. Any hint of change that's not socialistic in nature is immediately derided with the standard predictable hoots of Americanization and accusations of immorality.

And Doig should probably know - maybe she doesn't - that of those politicians who she claims at the federal level prefer to wrap themselves in the flag, dismissing reform ideas as unpatriotic bla bla bla: those federal politicians are almost exclusively Liberals and NDPeers. Come on - don't even pretend it ain't so, Ms. Doig - that is beneath you, and undercuts your position.

Even as the current Conservatives spend billions (while in deficit) on health care, the left still portrays them as health care cutters. Perhaps Doig can actually discuss each federal party's reactions to the Romanow report, the Kirby report, the Mazankowski report, to the Chaoulli decision, to the Shona Holmes case...

Perhaps Doig might mention the health care cuts in Liberal Ontario and Liberal BC. Why are they not questioned?

And what's this stuff Doig writes of about 'minority parliaments' and 'economic pre occupations'? That's what government is, and does! What, is Doig thinking that some massive majority of a single party is better to ram through some kind of new health legislation, the way McGuinty did?! What better time to discuss health care than in a minority?

Look at McGuinty's Liberal health care system - he's had six years at it in an unchallenged majority - so what the hell is Doig jerking the feds for? Look at McGuinty's Commitment to the Future of Medicare act - that legislation stinks: but conveniently Doig isn't transparent enough to tell us why she isn't criticizing it; perhaps it's unpatriotic to question a Liberal.

Has Doig asked all fed and provincial parties, in power or opposition, their views on the transformation of the failing single-payer health monopoly to another model?

Has Iggy bothered to tell anyone what his Liberals' health care policies are?! You can expect some smug flag wavin' over there, from the body-bag party, which tried to benefit from the H1N1 issue. [Maybe it was someone else Doig was referring to?] Will Iggy support the re-writing of the Canada Health Act?!

We expect more leadership from the CMA than this tepid, less-than-clinical response from Doig.

Doig should get on EVERY politician's ass, without playing coy partisan games herself: say what you mean, be specific, show us examples and options, keeping in mind that patients should have access to payer/provider choice, and keeping in mind that NO POLITICIAN deserves to be or should be in charge of a health care monopoly.

If the last two reminders are not on Doig's list of essential goals, then this CMA head is just wasting everyone's valuable time.

Fish or cut bait, Ms. Doig.

We all know that the proverbial "something" has to be done - but then we don't do it.

Force the debate, if you have to - it's obvious that status-quo loving politicians, as much as they pretend to care for patients, are loathe to even touch the issue without a flag and a trite Tip-O-the-Hat to Tommy Douglas.

Someone has to lead a debate NOT mired in "patriotic" Douglasonian-socialist treacle.

Will it be up to the courts to decide on behalf of patients, because the politicians couldn't get off their asses on this?

Where is Ontario's Chaoulli?

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