October 14, 2009

When It Comes To Private Health Care In Canada Don't Ask Don't Tell Is The Policy

By Melvin J. Howard

Canada has a don’t ask don’t tell policy when it comes to private health care. Other words don’t ask the Government of Canada do you have a private health care industry and they won’t have to tell you no lies. The latest court case in British Columbia between the private clinics and the Province is just one more example of hypocrisy I witnessed for years when it came to private health care in Canada. Excuse me while I let out a big yawn but please! Canada are you just starting to realize you have a private health care industry? Both the Federal and Provincial governments have been turning a blind eye to it for years even to the point of contracting out medical services to the private health industry. So what’s the big deal in June 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Quebec laws that outlawed private insurance. The case became known as the Chaoulli decision. When Justice Marie Deschamps wrote in the Chaoulli judgment “I find that the prohibition (on private insurance) infringes the right to personal inviolability and that it is not justified by a proper regard for democratic values, public order and the general well-being of the citizens of Quebec”,

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote, “Patients die as a result of waiting for public health care” and “Access to a waiting list is not access to health care”, surely the message implied an expression of concern for all patients in Canada? Quebec seems to be the only Province to allow freedom of choice when it comes to their health care needs.

What’s even nuttier is Kevin Falcon, British Columbia's new Health Minister, believes patients should be able to use their own money to buy expedited health care in the private sector" I do not have any objection to people using their own money just as they do for dental care or sending their kids to private school," Mr. Falcon said. "I think choice is a good thing and reducing it is not a good thing. This is in contrast to George Abbott the previous health minister before Falcon who informed Dr. Brian Day that the government would vigorously defend the lawsuit Day initiated against the government who wanted to look at his books. But Day said screw that and launched legal challenge claiming the laws against "extra billing" and charging patients for "medically necessary" services like surgery were unconstitutional. "The waiting periods for medical care in the province are unreasonable and result in patients receiving inadequate care in the public health-care system," the suit says. "The unacceptable delays in patient care result in extended suffering and, in some cases, death. "The rights to liberty, life and security of the person are a constitutional guarantee of access to medical care, and include both a right to access to medical care of one's choice, whether public or private.

The Province on the other hand claims with a statement of defence, saying the laws against private billing are consistent with the charter of rights and are meant to protect a public health-care system "based on need and not an individual's ability to pay."

Then the government counter-sued against Day for refusing to let the auditors examine his financial records can you blame Day. Even a former Liberal member of the provincial legislature, Barry Penner, used a private surgery centre in 2004 when he needed a back operation during a hospital employees union strike, Mr. Falcon said: "I have no problem with what he did, particularly because it was during the strike. Mr. Penner was among 7,000 British Columbians who had surgery cancelled or delayed during the strike.

The government ended up contracting out many of the procedures to private clinics as a way to catch up. Can you see boys and girls the hypocrisy here for 12 years this is what I put up with. I am so proud health care is at the forefront of US debate and sure people are passionate about it. Why wouldn’t we be it has been simmering for sometime and now we are on the verge of reform. That reform is a work in progress never the less the US had the guts to confront a major issue that every American will have to deal with in their life time I want to be clear Universal or Private Care are just labels I’m for the best care possible period. I have often written in the past about countries like Switzerland, http://centurionhealthcorp.blogspot.com/2006/04/switzerland-health-care-system-that.html Belgium, Germany, Austria and France that have a system where government and the private health industry co-exist together to serve patients needs.

The problem I have with all of this is I had to jump through made up roadblocks and politicians who could not stand up to their own convictions when it came to private health care and allowing my hospital to be built. Now some are saying if the private clinics win this case this will allow the big bad Americans in! I am going to let you in on a little secret I would have filed my NAFTA claim regardless of the recent Supreme Court cases both in Quebec and British Columbia. So lets get that fear off the table now and get back into reality. If Canada wants to close their borders to this particular trade issue let me know I will be happy to pass that message on to other trading partners!