Medicare monopolists change rhetoric to “modernize”

In an opinion piece December 17, 2015, Bryan Thomas and Colleen M. Flood, from the University of Ottawa, call for Medicare to be modernized, not privatized. http://bit.ly/1ObGXPb

Here is our response:

For those who believe in a Medicare monopoly, “modernizing” appears to have replaced “finding efficiencies” as the be-all and end-all panacea. “Privatization” remains their villainous bogeyman, but nary a whisper about the unionized, public-sector health workforce with its higher costs for wages and benefits; and, never ever mention the word “strike.”

Moreover, even though Tommy Douglas believed in health care premiums, the Medicare monopolists perpetuate the canard that Medicare is free. Moreover, they avoid any discussion about how Medicare is robbing the ability of governments to pay for other important services such as social housing, low-income support, seniors’ programs, education, etc.

Baby trapped in red tape” is the December 8, 2015, headline in the St. Albert Gazette. http://bit.ly/1Nj9rCU As the Gazette reported:

“Eleanor Trinh is only six weeks old but she’s already faced more than one battle for her life, one of which involves a lot of red tape and a special formula called PurAmino that she needs to survive. The Trinhs – mom Natalie and dad Richy – face thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket expenses because Richy’s health insurer doesn’t cover the food.”

Tommy Douglas told the story that, if not for the intervention of a physician, he would have had his leg amputated because his parents couldn’t afford the hospital and medical costs. This was a driver in his passion to introduce publicly funded health care, i.e., Medicare.

Eleanor’s situation is the 2015 version of Douglas’. Today, the Medicare monopoly pays for all office visits and for many non-life threatening elective procedures, but not for the special formula to save Eleanor’s life. Unless there is a special dispensation by Alberta’s health minister, the Trinhs are facing the cost dilemma as Tommy’s parents did, the difference being life and death.

As taxpayers, Canadians cannot afford Medicare’s ever-escalating share of provincial government budgets. In the early 1980s, it was around 30%, today it is 45-50%, and it will be 70% by the mid-2040s if the current trend continues.

So, what are our priorities? What should Medicare pay for? Eleanor’s formula, or office visits to the family physician and elective surgeries?

 

Canada’s government-run health care system – Medicare -- is a monopoly that prohibits private hospital and private physician care. Medicare is a subpar performer, ranking 10th among 11 advanced countries. Canadians deserve much better! Patients deserve timely access to quality care and choice of hospitals and physicians. Taxpayers deserve much more value for their tax dollars.

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