Monday, February 8, 2010

Cardiac procedures in Canada 'are not provided universally in a timely manner'

St.Catharines Standard (Feb.4, 2010) reported in "Premier didn't have to leave Canada for surgery: experts":

"The surgery Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams required may not be available in his home province, but chances are it's available in his home country, experts say.

Williams - an outspoken proponent of public health care - went to the U.S. Monday morning for a heart procedure his office said couldn't be done in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Williams' office has been tight-lipped about the situation, refusing to disclose what type of procedure he's undergoing, or where.

Canadian medical experts insist that when it comes to heart procedures, there's nothing you can get in the U.S. that you can't get here. You just have to wait a bit longer, and the accommodations aren't as nice.

Dr. Arvind Koshal, a prominent Alberta cardiac surgeon, told the Globe and Mail Williams is sending the message that if you have money, you can forgo the hassles of public health care and pay for quicker service south of the border.

"The optics are very poor, especially for people who are proponents of the Canadian health-care system," said Koshal.

Dr. Wilbert Keon, a heart surgery pioneer in Ottawa and a Conservative senator, told the Globe there is "no question" Williams could have chosen to remain in Canada.

Meanwhile, U.S. opponents of President Barack Obama's proposed health-care reform have made Williams their poster child.

Obama aims to extend health care to the country's uninsured - a move critics say will extend wait times, turning America's health-care system into the Canadian model.

Patients First, an American organization against Obama's health-care reform plan, cited Williams' decision as proof the Canadian system is flawed.

"For the last nine months, we've fought against a government takeover of our health care not only because of its high cost but also its debilitating effect on the quality and accessibility of care to patients. Yesterday, we were given a reminder from ... Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams that this is the case in Canada," reads the group's website

"When the equivalent of a governor can't get a specific procedure, what chance does the average Canadian have?" wrote one blogger at the right-wing site

Williams, 60, is expected to publicly comment on the issue when he recovers, which could take anywhere from three to 12 weeks."


The National Post had a story [similar to the Standard's Feb.4 story above] on Feb.3, 2010, here, titled "Little need to go to the U.S. for heart surgery: MDs" [I also commented on this article here]

Richard Baker of Timely Medical Alternatives Inc. wrote a response to the Post's Feb.3 article, (which would also pretty much apply to the Standard's story as well) "Heart surgery in the U.S. is routine" (National Post, Feb.8, 2010, here):

"Re: Little Need To Go To U.S. For Heart Surgeries: MDs

Contrary to the assurance of Canadian heart specialists, cardiac procedures are not provided, universally, in a timely manner. Our organization sends clients to the United States for cardiac ablation, cardiac bypass, angioplasty and cardiac valve replacements, in ever-increasing numbers.

While cardiac procedures are not available privately in Canada, Canadians can purchase insurance policies that will cover the cost for procedures in the United States.

Having surgery in the United States is not out of the financial reach of most Canadians. Our clients can get a cardiac bypass for US$16,000. If you were on a lengthy wait-list for this life-saving procedure, why wouldn't you go to the United States?

The fact that Canadians routinely travel south for surgery is not evidence of queue-jumping. If Danny Williams had displaced a fellow Canadian on a wait-list for surgery in Canada, that would be.

Until Canadians realize the shortcomings of our health-care system, there will be no meaningful reform to our system and many will continue to travel to the United States, Canada's "health-care system of last resort".

Williams was/is an "outspoken proponent..." as the Standard story says "...of public health care" - that's a cutesy euphemism for state-run, single-payer health care. How sadly ironic that this single-payer-pushing-Premier should have to - whether by choice or circumstance; that's yet to be seen - go out of the country to obtain his healthcare: Williams is practising ' ABC ' healthcare, Anywhere But Canada, eh?
When Williams gets back in the saddle, maybe he will kindly inform the Canadian sheeple why they're limited to a state-run health monopoly which isn't even good enough for the Premier.

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