Private vs. unionized long-term care

On December 9 in the Edmonton Journal, the Friends of Medicare and Public Interest Alberta published an op ed [Opinion: Shift continuing care to public sector] that argued for more unionized, publicly funded long-term care.

Two days later, the Alberta Continuing Care Association responded [Private providers provide vital role in continuing care].

The union supported Friends of Medicare and Public Interest Alberta have always demonized the private sector. It’s understandable, therefore, they promote more and more unionization of the health care system. In doing so, they jeopardize the sustainability of Medicare.

According to their op ed:

“The most meaningful sign the new government can send that it is departing from the old government’s reliance on for-profit corporations to provide continuing care would be to make good on their promise to open 2,000 public long-term care spaces, where profit is not a factor and care is the No. 1 priority.

“Fulfilling that promise should be the government’s first step to phasing out private, for-profit continuing care. Our public health care dollars should not be given to corporate shareholders; it should be spent on care for Albertans.”

In rebuttal, Alberta Continuing Care Association CEO Tammy Leach wrote:

“The notion that private care providers are ‘pocketing’ money is false. Funding is based on assessed care needs arrived at by a provincially set standardized tool that applies to all residents in facility-based care, regardless of ownership type.

“All continuing care operators struggle against rising costs, from food to cleaning supplies. The total cost to deliver hospitality services (including capital) as of July 1, 2015 is $2,339, while the current accommodation fee paid by residents is $1,893, the second lowest in Canada. Care providers have had to be innovative in combating costs.

“Given the decline in care funding since the 2010 HQCA long-term care survey, ‘no significant decline in the family member’s satisfaction’ indicates operators are doing a lot more with a lot less. The trend, however, is unsustainable.”

Of interest: Both the Friends of Medicare and Public Interest Alberta had high media profiles that were very critical of the former PC government. Since the election of the NDP government, however, their mindset appears to be, “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.”

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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