May 11, 2009

Celebrity US Health Care Apprentice Staring Canada And The UK


Government Run Mandatory Health Care I’m Sorry Your Fired


By Melvin J. Howard


Well its seems health care in the US, UK and Canada is in the news. Imagine to my surprise when watching CNN when a commercial talking about the perils of a mandatory Government run health care system in the United States. Featuring Canadians, Brits and physicians as well as administrators. Talking about their health care system i.e. not getting the care they need . It bought tears to my eyes a subject I have been talking about for the last 10 years is finally the bell of the ball. A non-profit organization called Conservatives for Patient’s Rights are running the ads I don’t know if this is political affiliation or not? In America people tend to  divide certain members of the population to gain support for an issue. It is a strategy that has been carried out since World War I. But the fact is it works because the majority of folks want do their homework on any given issue. To me this is not a black or white issue, poor or rich issue its not even a Republican or Democrat issue this is a people issue. Not one to sit on the sidelines on an issue that is so near and dear to my heart. I speak from a non-objective view or with out any hidden agenda. Bottom line mandatory government run health care systems do not work. I speak from personal and upfront experience not from second hand information or propaganda. Eventually with every government that has mandated a government run health care system they run out of money. Which in turn leads to rationing from there patient line ups bed shortages etc.  President Obama said he is not talking about implementing a system like Canada or the UK’s but something uniquely American. My hope is the administration reaches out to all stakeholders on this issue to come up with a viable plan that will include the 50 million or so that is uninsured. Contain costs, free choice, make sure competition stays in place and overall do not stifle innovation the hallmark of the US health system. According to CPR they are thinking alone these lines as stated on their web site below.              

Who is CPR?

Conservatives for Patients' Rights is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and informing the public about the principles of patients rights and, in doing so, advancing the debate over health care reform. Those principles include choice, competition, accountability and responsibility. We believe the path to effective health care reform must be based on the patient-doctor relationship and not from a top-down, big government perspective. Anything that interferes with an individual’s freedom to consult their doctor of choice to make health care decisions defeats the purpose of meaningful health care reform.

The Pillars and Plans of Health Care Reform

Any serious discussion of health care reform that does not include choice, competition, accountability and responsibility — the four "pillars" of patients' rights — will result in our government truly becoming a "nanny-state," making decisions based on what is best for society and government rather than individuals deciding what is best for each of us. 


I hear tale Michael McBane of The National Health Coalition criticized Dr. Brian Day of the Cambie Surgical Center. For going on American television and talking about the shortcomings of Canada’s government run health system. Well I say shame on him. Dr. Day has a right to speak up or is that outlawed in Canada? It seems Mr, McBane likes to make his comments known to everybody as stated below in a Canadian news article:   


Howard and his partners want to open a private surgical centre in B.C. similar to the Cambie Clinic owned by Dr. Brian Day, past-president of the Canadian Medical Association, but are facing what they call anti-American roadblocks in several municipalities.


They are demanding Ottawa reimburse them $4 million in actual costs and another $150 million in foregone profits.


Mike McBane, co-ordinator of the pro-medicare National Health Coalition, says the Howard lawsuit is "an extremely serious warning to provinces not to privatize the delivery of the health care system. We've always known there were serious risks to (medicare) to the extent that we privatize it because it was only protected if it was delivered on a non-commercial basis."

McBane says privatizers and foreign investors are emboldened by what he calls a "perfect storm": a federal government that believes in provincial autonomy, not national standards; the 2005 Supreme Court Chaoulli decision that private medical services do not abridge medicare and are a fundamental human right; and the CMA's new support for two-tier medicine.


He cites a speech Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave in 2001 when he was president of the National Citizens Coalition in which he stated: "(W)hat we clearly need is experimentation -- with market reforms and private delivery options within the public system. And it is only logical that, in a federal state where the provinces operate the public health care systems and regulate private services, that experimentation should occur at the provincial level."

It seems Dr. Day is not the only one that has something to say about the Canadian health system as reported by The Wall Street Journal.



President Obama and Congressional Democrats are inching the U.S. toward government-run health insurance. Last week's expansion of Schip -- the State Children's Health Insurance Program -- is a first step. Before proceeding further, here's a suggestion: Look at Canada's experience.

 Health-care resources are not unlimited in any country, even rich ones like Canada and the U.S., and must be rationed either by price or time. When individuals bear no direct responsibility for paying for their care, as in Canada, that care is rationed by waiting.

Canadians often wait months or even years for necessary care. For some, the status quo has become so dire that they have turned to the courts for recourse. Several cases currently before provincial courts provide studies in what Americans could expect from government-run health insurance.

In Ontario, Lindsay McCreith was suffering from headaches and seizures yet faced a four and a half month wait for an MRI scan in January of 2006. Deciding that the wait was untenable, Mr. McCreith did what a lot of Canadians do: He went south, and paid for an MRI scan across the border in Buffalo. The MRI revealed a malignant brain tumor.

Ontario's government system still refused to provide timely treatment, offering instead a months-long wait for surgery. In the end, Mr. McCreith returned to Buffalo and paid for surgery that may have saved his life. He's challenging Ontario's government-run monopoly health-insurance system, claiming it violates the right to life and security of the person guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Shona Holmes, another Ontario court challenger, endured a similarly harrowing struggle. In March of 2005, Ms. Holmes began losing her vision and experienced headaches, anxiety attacks, extreme fatigue and weight gain. Despite an MRI scan showing a brain tumor, Ms. Holmes was told she would have to wait months to see a specialist. In June, her vision deteriorating rapidly, Ms. Holmes went to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, where she found that immediate surgery was required to prevent permanent vision loss and potentially death. Again, the government system in Ontario required more appointments and more tests along with more wait times. Ms. Holmes returned to the Mayo Clinic and paid for her surgery.

On the other side of the country in Alberta, Bill Murray waited in pain for more than a year to see a specialist for his arthritic hip. The specialist recommended a "Birmingham" hip resurfacing surgery (a state-of-the-art procedure that gives better results than basic hip replacement) as the best medical option. But government bureaucrats determined that Mr. Murray, who was 57, was "too old" to enjoy the benefits of this procedure and said no. In the end, he was also denied the opportunity to pay for the procedure himself in Alberta. He's heading to court claiming a violation of Charter rights as well.

These constitutional challenges, along with one launched in British Columbia last month, share a common goal: to win Canadians the freedom to spend their own money to protect themselves from the inadequacies of the government health-insurance system.

The cases find their footing in a landmark ruling on Quebec health insurance in 2005. The Supreme Court of Canada found that Canadians suffer physically and psychologically while waiting for treatment in the public health-care system, and that the government monopoly on essential health services imposes a risk of death and irreparable harm. The Supreme Court ruled that Quebec's prohibition on private health insurance violates citizen rights as guaranteed by that province's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

The experiences of these Canadians -- along with the untold stories of the 750,794 citizens waiting a median of 17.3 weeks from mandatory general-practitioner referrals to treatment in 2008 -- show how miserable things can get when government is put in charge of managing health insurance.

In the wake of the 2005 ruling, Canada's federal and provincial governments have tried unsuccessfully to fix the long wait times by introducing selective benchmarks and guarantees along with large increases in funding. The benchmarks and the guarantees aren't ambitious: four to eight weeks for radiation therapy; 16 to 26 weeks for cataract surgery; 26 weeks for hip and knee replacements and lower-urgency cardiac bypass surgery.

Canada's system comes at the cost of pain and suffering for patients who find themselves stuck on waiting lists with nowhere to go. Americans can only hope that Barack Obama heeds the lessons that can be learned from Canadian hardships.

Mr. Esmail, based in Calgary, is the director of Health System Performance Studies at The Fraser Institute.