CMA “national dialogue” supports expansion of Canada Health Act

The Canadian Medical Association has issued a report on its “national dialogue on health care transformation” – the results of six town halls (two in Ontario, one in Quebec, one in BC, Alberta and Nova Scotia) and its on-line consultation.

The report summarizes what the CMA heard, but makes no real recommendations.

“The message that came through most strongly from the public was the need to preserve and strengthen the current principles underpinning the Canada Health Act to ensure continued support for a universally accessible, publicly funded health care system,” the report states.

The report also made clear there was strong support for broadening the scope of the existing legislation. Various respondents spoke of the need of bringing dental care, eye care, drug coverage, long term care, home care, hospice care and care from alternate providers under the Act.

Not surprisingly, Maclean’s national editor Andrew Coyne filled the role of Chicken Little overstating the cost of health care, claiming it “is eating us alive.” Coyne claims 30 per cent efficiency can be had from reorganizing the system, but never points out where these savings would come from aside from making a pitch for more competition on pricing and decentralized funding.

When the public complained the Canada Health Act was not being enforced, Coyne invited them to vote NDP, claiming neither the Liberals or Tories would enforce the Act.

Dr. Danielle Martin of Canadian Doctors for Medicare said a public, single payer system is the best way to control health care costs, noting the cost of physician and hospital costs have been remarkably stable while drug costs have been the “Pac-Man” eating its way through provincial budgets.

The CMA concluded that Canadians suffering from unacceptable wait times, crowded hospitals and a lack of physician and other services were all signs the “once proud” system was under distress. While the majority felt underfunding was part of this scenario, others, like Coyne, believed the system was adequately funded but needed to be better organized.

Click here to download the full CMA report.

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