Some things just need to be said...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A medical "Skidder" or "How to Profit off of Medicare"

Senator Kirby has recommended Canada adopt wait time guarantees for some treatments. Sounds like a great solution to many at first blush. Stephen Harper wants it and so does Paul Martin. In essence it says if the public system doesn't get it done then you can get it done somewhere else.

So here is the crux of the issue.

Wait time guarantees will serve to undermine the public health system. Private clinics will likely be the provider of care, this will allow some provinces where they have a mind already to go to private care delivery, to set financial limits on public facilities. They do this through closing operating rooms.

Under the Liberal plan $75 million has been allocated for the wait time guarantee. We have no idea where that number came from. It was plucked out of the air I suspect by Martin's team looking for a news bite. Now think about this for a minute. If an operation cannot be done in a public facility its usually because of limits on operating room access. BC has hospitals all over the Province where these facilities are not in use, closed down. Every election the Government gets a few bucks out to open them up and clear a backlog of surgery.

So instead of spending the wait time gurantee money in the public facility, it will be spent I presume to send you to another place, if you have to travel, then travelling costs would be covered plus the cost of the procedure and care at the "other" facility. The procedure will still be paid for from the jurisdiction you come from. Wouldn't it be more efficient to use facilities we already have to do this work?

Does it make sense to spend thousands of dollars to send someone out of province for "routine" surgery or diagnostic services? Currently the government under utilises and under funds public diagnostic services and continue to expand the use of private facilities...

"It reminds me of a time when I started working for the Forest Service in 1978. I had written a report which was used in part to reject a applicant for a timber license. He lost the the bid to another bidder. After this occured I received a call from a Senior BC Cabinet Minister suggesting I change my report. His reasoning was that this guy just bought a brand new skidder. He needed government contracts to to pay for it."

We see provincial governments today expand the use of for profit private diagnostic services. A guy goes out and buys the "medical skidder" and we pay off his loan. It doesn't make sense when we could buy it and provide the services directly through the public system. In fact, our public equipment sits idle while private facilities receives our patronage.

The Wait Time Guarantee is the Trojan horse of the For Profit Health Care industry. The governments choose not to invest in public services to meet the needs, they cry about being unable to cope and then use that to justify using the for profit private facility. Its a run a round the mulberry bush of course.

One of the biggest strains on the public health care sector are hip and joint procedures. It is a problem in every province. So its no solution to pack someone up and send them to another province, we would just be bumping a local person from the wait list.

Again because of a lack of funding for the public system, the government in BC has chosen to shop the work out. To ultilise private for profit facilities. Some of these facilities will do just the one procedure. That is they will do this in an asembly plant manner. Patient on the table, open up, cut, stitch up and out the door, Next! They are likely to do it well and you get your surgery and he makes a profit. A profit that could have been used to provide more care if it had been spent in the public system.

See Maureen's Garden for some satire, Gone is the wait lists

Election, Canada, Politics, Conservative Party of Canada, Stephen Harper, ,

No comments: