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    Saturday, September 18, 2004

    Going Private: As some American politicians seek to move American medicine closer to a Canadian model, some Canadian doctors are trying to move the Canadian system closer to the U.S. system:

    Three doctors who have opted out of medicare are set to open Quebec's first-ever private emergency clinic.

    Dr. Luc Bessette, a former emergency room doctor at St. Luc Hospital, says he knows first-hand how long people have to wait to get treatment.

    His experience has prompted him and two colleagues to go private.

    "We have three kinds of services we are offering. One will be for people who want emergency attention, like minor surgery. The other service will be for people who want to have a medical [checkup]," says Dr. Bessette. "And the third service is for people who are looking for a family physician."

    A 20-minute consultation will cost patients a minimum of $100, he says, and claims the price is less expensive than visiting a veterinarian.

    I wonder if they'll have any trouble getting people to pay? My patients gripe about $10 co-pays.

    Meanwhile, the Canadian government's idea of reform is to throw more money at the system:

    Given the premiers' fixation on extracting as much money as possible from Ottawa, our expectations for the first ministers conference were fairly low. But it still came as a disappointment that no one was willing to discuss the one innovation that could put Canadian health care on a sound basis in the long run: the introduction of more private delivery options. In this sense, the meetings in Ottawa this past week were a replay of the recent election campaign, in which none of the party leaders dared speak of health care reform in any terms except those pre-approved by Roy Romanow.

    What makes all of this so surreal is that -- as the leaders themselves know -- the all-public health care world they describe in their joint communiques no longer exists: Even as the premiers were shaking hands in Ottawa, an announcement was being made of plans for Canada's first private emergency room in Quebec.

    It is a shame that our leaders refuse to publicly acknowledge this shift. Canadians want to see improvements in the speed and quality of their health care. They are not particularly interested in which level of government is wasting their hard-earned dollars on it.

    Remember that the next time you hear the Kerry/Edwards talking points about expanding government-subsidized healthcare.

    posted by Sydney on 9/18/2004 10:49:00 AM 0 comments


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