Wednesday, February 3, 2010

McGuinty's Liberals refuse to say how many patients are exported from Ontario to the United States

Tom Blackwell wrote a column regarding Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams' decision to obtain cardiac care in the States rather than in Canada, see "Little need to go to U.S. for heart surgery", (National Post, Feb.3, 2010, here).

Blackwell reported this:

"Dr. Feindel said he is aware of only a single non-experimental heart operation not available in Canada: one to repair a rare aneurysm in the part of the aorta descending through the chest. While about 11,000 heart surgeries are carried out in Ontario every year, only one or two patients are sent to Baylor University Hospital in Texas to undergo the complex aorta operation, he said.

A half-dozen or so other Ontario patients are sent to the United States yearly for emergency heart surgery that is closer at hand in the States because the patient lives near the border, said Kori Kingsbury, CEO of the Cardiac Care Network."

Only a "half dozen or so" cardiac patients are sent annually from Dalton McGuinty's Ontario to the States, out of 11,000? Where is the actual source of Kori Kingsbury's information? Is this publicly available? Was Rick Laporte (see here) one of these lucky annual six patients in all of Ontario?

My local Ontario Liberal MPP, Jim Bradley, refuses to provide any information (see here; here) whatsoever regarding how many patients Ontario sends to the States, and why this is occurring in McGuinty's Liberal-dominated health care monopoly.

Just back in Mar.2008, I wrote of out-of-country health care in "Ludicrous Liberal health care"...

(see here)...

... where I commented on Lisa Priest's report “Health minister cites rules in cancer case, The province can’t fund ‘every hope mission’ to US’ aide says”, (Globe and Mail, Mar.12, 2008). Priest reported at the time (writing about Sylvia DeVries unpleasant experience under George Smitherman with OHIP's out-of-country health coverage):

"The Ontario Health Insurance Plan would not pay for her ovarian cancer treatment, because she did not fill out the prior approval form before receiving out-of-country care. OHIP also says no medical documentation was submitted that indicated that a delay in obtaining the service in Ontario would result in death or medically significant, irreversible tissue damage.
Figures obtained yesterday reveal the number of patients approved for out-of-country care has nearly tripled over the past five years.
In fiscal 2002-2003, there were 2,083 patients approved for out-of-country care. Since April, 2007, a total of 6,132 patients have had their treatment approved, according to Health Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Woodward Fraser. (Those numbers do not include the referrals of emergency neurosurgery and cardiac patients sent to the U.S. for care.)
The number of people denied out-of-country treatments has also increased, though not nearly as much. In fiscal 2002-2003, 225 patients were denied funding through the program, compared with fiscal 2007, in which 388 patients have so far been denied."


How accurate are the numbers in Blackwell's report today, or in Priest's report of just under two years ago? If 6,132 patients (as of Apr.2007 to Mar.12, 2008, the date of Priest's report) were going to the States for various health care treatments, from Ontario alone - NOT including, as Priest points out, cardiac and neuro-surgery cases - then how many more were cardiac patients? Have the numbers of (and the rate of) cardiac-patients exported to the States from Ontario decreased since 2003? And where is this information, from 2003-2009 to today, publicly available?

Maybe Deb Matthews, or whoever the health ministry spokesperson is today, can provide these answers; maybe the health minister will confirm the accuracy of the numbers given in Blackwell's and Priest's reports.

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