Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Medicare Calgary Style

Forget the idea that Ralph Kleins Third Way is Alberta's way it's the Calgary Way. As I have said before the PC's in Alberta are the Party of Calgary. Its the home of the right wing in Canada, as well as new home of Canada's corporate elite and their Headquarters. And for years it has had the honorific of being the largest American city north of the 49th parallel.

Being the brain trust of the neo-conservative revolution in Canada, when the neo-cons didn't like the Calgary Board of Education and its failure to adapt to their demands they pushed through Charter Schools and taxpayer funding for private schools. Calgary now has the largest number of private and charter schools in Canada.

Privatization of liquor and Electrical Deregulation came out of the Calgary business community and its control of the PC's. In particular it was promoted by Steve West, Ralph Kleins old drinking buddy. And despite protests by Ron Southern, Mr. Trilateral Commission, and Tory bagman for years, owner of ATCO, a private electrical supplier, the voice of Transalta, the private Calgary energy giant won out. On its board is the next CEO err Premier of Alberta, Jim Dinning.

What Calgary wants Calgary gets. The Gimball eye clinic started in Calgary, and thus the road towards two tier privatized health care began.Gimball ironically like all other laser eye surgery clinics, learnt the technique in the Soviet Union, where it was developed in the Ukraine to reduce waiting times for cataract surgery.

Private MRI clinics first developed in Calgary, prior to opening in other cities in Alberta. A conglomerate of doctors and investors, with the aid of the husband of a sitting MLA started the first private contract clinic which provides services to the WCB.

Two private health corporations are looking at opening up private surgical hotel overnight hospitals in Calgary.

The Klein announcement of creating a parallel private healthcare system in Alberta yesterday with his white paper on the so called Third Way, is another Calgary scheme. And Canadians in other provinces should be afraid. But not for reasons that you think.

The Third Way in health care
01-03-06, 9:32 pm @ Tory Thoughts
We all saw it coming. The writing was on the wall. The threats had been made. Ralph Klein has unveiled the framework of his Third Way health-care reform. As a Tory, I find myself wondering about the premier's motives for dismantling public health care. Most Albertans are Tories, but that doesn't mean they want to favour the rich and wealthy, so that they can go queue-jumping at the expense of those with less money in their pockets.

This Tory is right. He should be afraid. With a surplus as large as the Federal Governments, and with 25 Conservative MP's from Alberta, including the PM, Klein is preparing to defeat the Canada Health Act simply by bypassing it.

A little help
01-03-06, 7:03 pm @ Occam's Carbuncle
Could somebody please direct me to the provision of the Canada Health Act that bans privately insured medical services or direct payment by patients to health care providers?

Sure, the Canadian Health Act does not say you cannot have a parallel private health care system, nor does it ban privatized services, Klein can have his cake and eat it too.

The reality. Private clinics

There is nothing in the 1984 Canada Health Act or any of the subsequent policy directives from Ottawa that bans private clinics, provided they charge only the going Medicare rates and are paid by provincial plans.

Indeed, in Ottawa’s most stringent directive on the subject—the 1995 letter from former Liberal health minister Diane Marleau—provinces are allowed to pay for medically necessary work at private clinics as long as there is no separate facility fee charged by these clinics, or as long as the provincial plan picks up that tab as well.

The objective here is simply to eliminate any kind of user fee that might act as a bar to someone seeking service. So as long as Alberta hews to the policy on facility fees, it should be home free.

What this means is as I said here, Klein wants to build a private system to attract business. The Calgary gang which has money wants its cake and eat it too. They want their own medical system. Where they can get services and an overnight stay, bed and breakfast and the National Post delivered to the door. Drycleaning is optional.

The idea and Klein has said this before, is to attract those who would go out of the country to get private care. He wants them to come to Calgary for those services.
In fact the idea is to have Americans as well as folks from Ontario and Quebec come here. If they can afford it.

And the doctors, well they will come here too. From Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, B.C., anywhere that pays less than what Hotel Calgary will pay for their services.

And they will be able to have their wages guarnteed by Alberta Healthcare, consider it their base pay, which their private services will top up. It's a win win.
If you are a specialist.

Unruffled Evans preferred to call it a search "for the middle ground, where we can build on our capacity to serve Albertans." She might also have mentioned that it's likely a matter of time before Canada's doctors challenge the restrictions placed on them by medicare. We have the only system in the world that dictates working conditions for supposedly self-employed physicians.

Think of it Alberta is currently cutting edge in medical research, in heart operations, in childrens diseases, in diabetes research, etc. etc. What will now stop this research from becoming a business, an industry, funded by the government but patents and procedures being done for private profit. Nothing.

Alberta already has taken steps to increase the amount of doctors that can practice here by dropping the restrictions on retraining that immigrant doctors face elsewhere in Canada. These doctors are the replacement workers for doctors who will move out into private practice.

Canadians should be afraid. You stand to lose your doctors and nurse practicioners, and specialists to Alberta. You stand to see your provincial healthcare funds going to pay for services in Alberta. And if the Harper government passes its healthcare waiting times reforms, which guarntee that you can get services anywhere in Canada, well Alberta will benefit. We have already reduced waiting times for hip surgery, one of the things the Third Way will allow private practice in, from 47 weeks to 4.7 weeks in our public hospitals.

So Harper and Health Minister Clement can stare at the white paper all they like its whats not printed on the page that says it all. And while Clement isn't in the know every MP from Calgary including the PM is.

The Third Way is Calgary's Way of becoming the Mayo Clinic North. Would you like a glass of wine with that hip surgery sir?

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