Time to grow Medicare beyond its 20th roots

Alberta needs to be innovative and grow its health-care system beyond its 20th century roots, Canadians for Sustainable Medicare [C4SM] proposed in a letter-to-the-editor [“Ailing medicare system is looking for a cure”] published January 9, 2017, in the Calgary Herald.

The letter was prompted by a January 5 Herald editorial, “Wait times need action.” http://calgaryherald.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-wait-times-must-be-cut

In an Edmonton Journal letter-to-the editor, C4SM responded to a January 6, 2017, op ed by a retired nurse who questioned if politicians are “ready to heed these recommendations from the front lines of health care.” http://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-number-crunching-overshadows-health-care-efficiency  The headline in the print edition of the Journal was “Front-line suggestions can reform health care.”

“Front-line suggestions” from health-care professionals, such as nurses and physicians, “can reform health care,” may be applicable to day-to-day operations, C4SM suggested. “However, as outlined in the article, they will merely tweak the status quo and fall far short of real ‘reform’ that is required.” Canada’s health care system is “an expensive, subpar performer encased in mythology.”  

Ailing medicare system is looking for a cure

Governments, not just Alberta’s, require the private sector to protect consumers with warranties, guarantees and sometimes recalls.

However, they don’t “walk the talk” with it comes to their own abysmal performance with publicly funded health care, i.e., Medicare.

It’s been more than 14 years since the landmark report by the Senate committee, chaired by Liberal Senator Michael Kirby, called for a “care guarantee.” The Canadian Medical Association echoed the Senate’s leadership.

The Medicare monopoly severely limits a patient’s access to hospital services and to physician services. Albertans not only need, but also deserve, choice as to where, when, how and from whom they can obtain hospital and physician care. And they especially deserve a care guarantee when medicare fails.

Other countries with a mix of public and private providers outperform Canada and Alberta, and at a lower cost. Now is the time to be innovative and grow Alberta’s health-care system beyond its 20th-century roots.

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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