Thursday, April 14, 2011

My open letter to Michael Ignatieff

The Ottawa Citizen was kind enough to print an open letter I wrote to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the question of health care.

Check it out!


Roger H said...

Having recently retired from "the system," I can say your article hits pretty much all the relevant points. I believe the current system is unsustainable. Also, for what it's worth, our current crisis in health care (shortage of various health care professionals) is not entirely unexpected. We've known this was coming for at least the past 25 years and have been saying so to most of our representations to government.

Jason Cherniak said...

Gerry, you're assuming that decreasing the waitlist for something like hip surgery will have no effect on other lists. When I'm old enough to need it, I won't mind waiting months for hip surgery if it means I get treated for a heart attack without any wait for my insurance company to approve a procedure.

Guffman said...

Great letter - and the Citizen actually printed it... bravo!

Anonymous said...

“I won't mind waiting months” ... you’ll be waiting years, tantamount to rationing.

There is no way that government central planners can allocate resources (human and equipment) as efficiently as the market which is essentially a daily referendum of patients on what Health Services they want. This invisible hand allocation system works for Veterinarians and Dentists, it should do the same for Health Care.

All the government should be doing is what John Tory (who’s not a hard right winger) suggested... your OHIP card is your insurance that you show to the private service provider. Add-ons would be for your own wallet. The only question remaining is where to draw the line for the basics.


Anonymous said...

So is that the Liberals excuse Jason?

It implies that we must wait lengthy times for certain surgeries in order to guarantee that emergencies like heart attacks are dealt with promptly.Of course, even then there is no guarantee that emergency procedures won't be squeezed.

No thanks.

Millions of Canadians and virtually all civil servants are fortunate enough to get medical insurance coverage through their employer. Without these perks many families could not afford medications and equipment to help them with their ailments. The rest are screwed.

Universal healthcare as we define it is a fraud.(as is the idea of universal daycare).

In any case the Libs chose to cut funding to healthcare to the provinces during the Chretien years. The crisis they believe exists is in large part their own making. Funnelling extra billions/yr doesn't cover the rate of inflation or the gradual aging of the population.

It guarantees that during every election healthcare will be in crisis. And it seems that every election the Libs will argue they are the only ones that can fix it.

If a change is needed then the Libs must go. It is not 1968 anymore.

Donald MacD said...

The only cure you seem to suggest for the reduction of wait times is access to privately supplied health care, which must mean more doctors or more overtime for those we have. You do not tell us who is going to pay for extra doctors and service or where they are going to come from. Train more doctors? Again, something we will have to wait for and more of the expense that seems to be your main complaint. If they are to come from the public system this will be a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Overtime? OK, except that doctors are already complaining about overwork.
A hint of what the real answer might be is that clever reorganizations of public health care delivery, which have been tried in some places, have improved matters considerably.
Something you overlook is that once privatizing starts, corporations such as HMOs move in, and, as anyone willing to do a bit of research can find out, especially in the U.S. these are notoriously inefficient and not uncommonly fraudulent in their financial dealings with clients and government. Need I add that the services they offer come at far from low cost.
And what do you really want? Real and complete private health care for which everybody, with no exceptions, pays out of pocket? Or health care that is still publically paid for, still universally and equitably accessible, but delivered through profiteering private companies? Or, as you might seem to be advocating, some mix which allows queue jumping for the better off – perhaps in exchange for some kind of co-payment? The latter option seems reasonable, except that, unless doctors somehow get much more plentiful, queue jumping has to mean longer wait times than ever for some.
There are those who argue that allowing public care only is unfair to those able to pay for private care on demand. But, as you mention, these are free to go to some other country where they can, albeit somewhat selfishly, queue jump to their heart’s content.
A reason to be doubtful about the claim that health care delivery by the private sector will reduce its cost is that its present high and ever rising cost is due in large part to the depredations of price gouging pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers. Indicative of the chicanery of the pharmaceutical companies in particular is that, along with the reckless and irresponsible way they have put certain drugs on the market, they claim their high prices are due to the research they do while spending more on advertising than they do on that research.
In any case, I suspect that many of those looking to privately deliver health care are motivated more by the prospect of making more money than the enhancement of patient care.
Another thing I see is that, whatever its failings might be, our health care system regularly delivers life saving emergency care to those who need it most.
Donald MacDonald, Sydney, N.S.

Miles Lunn said...

The problem with health care is no one wants to talk about what is needed to reform it. With an aging population, dramatic changes will have to made as warned by former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge. A parallel private system is one possibility, for those on the left raising taxes is another, or dramatically cutting spending elsewhere. The one thing is a single payer system with our current tax rate, a balanced budget, and no spending cuts elsehwere is not sustainable. Besides even if the Canada Health Act was scrapped, I doubt a parallel private system would emerge anytime soon as the CHA only sets conditions for federal funding, at the end of the day the provinces, not the federal government decide how to manage health care.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right Donald! Let's just pour billions and billions more dollars into health care. That's always been the solution from the lefties and how has that worked out?