Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Canadian public health coverage needed: Romanow

By Bradley Bouzane
Postmedia News
November 30, 2011

Roy Romanow told a symposium on the future of medicare Wednesday that a number of health matters — including home care and the out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs — should be included in the public system to ensure all Canadians get the services they need.

The former Saskatchewan premier and chair of the 2002 Commission on the Future of Health Care said Canada's public health-care system maintains clear advantages over a privatized system, but insists more work is needed to provide more complete care.

"We must lay the groundwork now for including catastrophic drug costs, at least, and bring aspects of home care, long-term care and access to advanced diagnostic services — the areas of fastest rising costs — under the umbrella of public funding," Romanow told the symposium, which was organized by the Canadian Health Coalition.

"Otherwise, costs will continue to escalate — without restraint and with relentless abandonment of those in need."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Canada’s never-ending medicare fight

By Thomas Walkom
Toronto Star
Nov 29 2011

The most depressing element of Canada’s on-again, off-again medicare debate is its repetitiveness. The country is forced to fight the same battle again and again. It’s as if our political elites learn nothing.

I was reminded of that this weekend when Reform Party founder Preston Manning showed up on CTV’s Question Period to — again — make his pitch for two-tier health care.

The ostensible reason for his appearance was that Ottawa and the provinces are again talking about how to share medicare costs.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Romanow fears 'patchwork-quilt Canada' health care

By Kevin Scanlon
Nov. 27 2011

Former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow warns that pushing provinces to raise funds for their own health-care systems would create a "patchwork quilt Canada" of health coverage, with the have-not provinces losing out.

In the wake of a two-day meeting in Halifax this week that laid the groundwork for a new health accord, Romanow spoke to CTV's Question Period about the dangers of cutting back on federal funding.

"It would be the end of a national program of medicare," he said.

Medicare turns 30

By Malcolm Taylor, PHD.
J 1992; 147 (2)

An assessment from 20 years ago...

Tommy's Heirloom: A backgrounder and screenplay

MEDICARE AS POLICY: Context for Tommy’s Heirloom

This essay surveys the story of how medicare legislation was developed for the province of Saskatchewan and took effect on July 1st, 1962.

Through the case study of Saskatchewan medicare legislation, a screenplay [by Stephanie Gan] complementary to this essay develops the following more general themes: the process of policy development and the roles played by politicians, experts and civil servants; the nature of good policy; medicare in Saskatchewan as precedent and as continuing legacy.

“It is most necessary for any government that those in charge of various departments shall be competent and capable of absorbing new ideas and techniques. No matter how good legislation is, if those in charge of administering it are unsympathetic or incapable of a new approach, little good will come of it.”

These words belong to Tommy Douglas, the man voted to be the Greatest Canadian in 2004 for the social agenda his party, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, brought to Saskatchewan and Canada.

The credit is well-deserved.

Read more HERE.

Friday, November 25, 2011

UK: The abolition of the NHS. That’s what is happening.

In a speech on exports and growth on 10th November 2011, David Cameron went “off-script” and revealed his government’s true agenda for the NHS.

Standing in front of a Union Jack banner and the slogan “START UP BRITAIN” the Prime Minister told his audience of small and medium enterprise people at the BFI on London’s South Bank: “We have a growth review, led by the Chancellor and the business secretary, which ensures that every minister has to come to the table with proposals to cut regulation in their departments and come up with ways of helping business in their sector, helping them to grow.” Then he said: “From the Health Secretary, I don’t just want to know about waiting times. I want to know how we drive the NHS to be a fantastic business for Britain.”

He really said that. It’s here on video: “I want to know how we drive the NHS to be a fantastic business for Britain.”

That same week Hinchingbrooke Hospital became the first NHS Hospital to be franchised to a large for profit health care company — Circle.

The NHS is already big business and some of the costs are there for everyone to see.  (Much is hidden). The NHS is haemorrhaging public funds to hundreds of companies through a range of services, legal, accountancy, catering cleaning, PFI and health care.

2,550 bankruptcies filed daily in US because of unpaid medical bills

MyPeace TV

In fact,one recent survey estimated that 72 million,or 41 percent,of nonelderly adults have accumulated medical debt or had difficulty paying medical bills in the past year.A full 61 percent of those with difficulty were policyholders with ridulous copays/deductibles. 75% of people who have filed for bankruptcy due to unpaid bills were in fact underinsured.

Because we have managed to match last years bankruptcies filings (in just 8 months) 2550 people daily file for bankruptcy.These stats are based on reports filed U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, “Insurance Insecurity: 9/16/09

Find more videos like this on MyPeace.TV

Medicare gets a rough ride in Regina (CBC 1962)

Broadcast Date: July 11, 1962

On July 11, the doctors strike peaks. Media reports talk of possible violence and leaders on both sides call for calm. Medicare opponents from around Saskatchewan gather at the provincial legislature in Regina, including some with lynched effigies of Premier Lloyd and Tommy Douglas. Crowd estimates vary from 10,000, as claimed by the rally's organizers, to one government official's claim that he could get more people out to a picnic. Police put the number at around 4,000.

Click HERE to view. 
Select video 6. 

The dangerous myths about medicare

By Thomas Walkom
Toronto Star
November 25, 2011

With medicare talks underway again, two pervasive health-care myths need be cleared up and one warning given.

First, medicare isn’t about to be bankrupted by the elderly. That’s a common misconception, spurred by the fact that baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — are nearing retirement.

In both political and media arenas, this particular myth is treated as unshakeable truth, creating fears that doddering boomers will monopolize virtually all health-care dollars.

But as figures released this month by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) demonstrate, such fears are grossly exaggerated.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Advocates call for higher taxes to pay for health care
Thu Nov. 24 2011

The federal government needs to increase its funding to the provinces to pay for health care programs, and they should raise taxes to do it, a group of medicare advocates is telling the country's health ministers meeting in Halifax.

Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians says the federal government should commit to a 10-year health transfer plan with the provinces that would see a six per cent increase in funding annually.

"At the moment, the Harper government is only committed to 2016, so we are very concerned that they have no intention of carrying it beyond that," Barlow told a news conference Thursday.

Barlow added that the Canada Health Act must be better enforced so that it's used to stop private health care services from eroding the system.

Barlow also wants to see health care coverage include dental care, pharmacare and continuing care.

The ministers are meeting in Halifax to discuss how to reform and pay for health care after the current health care accord expires in 2014. Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq will join the ministers on Friday evening.

The federal government is currently providing $27 billion to the provinces this fiscal year for health care. That amount is slated to rise six per cent a year for the next four years. But the provinces provide the bulk of the funding -- often at the expense of other programs and their general fiscal health.

This week's meeting is considered an early step in the health care spending decision-making process. Talks will continue next month among provincial and territorial finance ministers and culminate with a gathering of premiers in January.

The talks come as the federal government looks to cut spending across a number of ministries -- and at time of growing concern about the rapidly rising costs of health care.

Arguments for state medicine in Saskatchewan (1943)

Petition for Rights and a Bill of Health
By the State Hospital and Medical League
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

Published and presented just before the election of Tommy Douglas's CCF in 1944.

Support for public health care soars

Canadian News Wire
November 24, 2011

An overwhelming 94-percent of Canadians support public - not private, for-profit - solutions to making the country's healthcare system stronger - with an equal number of Conservatives flying the banner for public health care. 

A new poll conducted by Nanos Research, released on the eve of National Medicare Week (Nov. 27- Dec. 3), revealed the soaring Canada-wide support, up nearly 10-percent from a similar poll conducted a little over a year ago. Support has risen to a record 94-percent, from a strong showing in August 2010 of 86-percent, underlining that more than nine in ten Canadians support public solutions to making public healthcare stronger.

"There are two issues at play here," Nik Nanos, President of Nanos Research, noted. "First, healthcare continues to be a top issue of national concern for Canadians. The second point is that right across the board, regardless of political affiliation or other demographics, support for public solutions in health care has increased over the past three years."

The new poll was commissioned on behalf of the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) and surveyed 1,202 Canadians between Oct. 20 and 24, 2011. The results are considered accurate within 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The results were good news for the CHC, a national organization that advocates for the protection and expansion of Canada's public health system, who said the polling results should serve as a loud wake up call to the Harper government.

"Canadians are looking for federal leadership to protect and improve the public health care system," said Michael McBane, national coordinator of the CHC. "With the 2004 Health Accord up for renewal in 2014, the federal government needs to work with provinces and territories to make healthcare - and a renewed 10-year plan - a top priority.

The current government's lack of leadership, combined with a history of abdicating its federal healthcare responsibilities along with its penchant for turning its back on enforcing national standards and compliance with the Canada Health Act are all causes for concern," said McBane.

As a result, the CHC will be carrying its message to 100 parliamentarians on December 1, seeking their support to protect and improve Medicare. As well, the CHC has planned an evening symposium for Nov. 30. Secure the Future of Medicare: A Call to Care will feature keynote speaker Roy Romanow, chair of the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, Andre Picard, senior health reporter and others who will discuss the future of Medicare in Canada.

Click image above to enlarge

How Sustainable is Medicare?

September 2007

A Closer Look at Aging, Technology and Other Cost Drivers in Canada’s Health Care System
By Marc Lee

There is little to suggest that health care costs will spiral out of control as Canada’s population ages, says a new study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The study, by CCPA-BC Senior Economist Marc Lee, finds that population aging is only a small contributor to rising health care costs, and that the system can be maintained and even enhanced without breaking the bank.

“There is no demographic time bomb waiting to go off in our health care system,” says Lee.

The study finds that:
  • Over the past decade, the impact of population aging on health care spending was only 0.8% per year.
  • To keep current service levels and accommodate for future population growth, aging, and inflation, health care expenditures must rise by 4.4% per year. This is very affordable in the context of reasonable economic growth.
  • If economic growth rates in the future are consistent with those over the past decade, health care spending as a share of the economy (GDP) will actually fall over the next 50 years.
  • By dedicating the same proportion of new economic output to health care, not only will there be enough money to pay for existing services (even after population growth, aging and inflation), there will still be enough for modest expansion of services.
“The real challenge for future health care expenditures comes not from an aging population but the costs associated with new health technologies, such as new surgical techniques, diagnostics, prescription drugs, and end-of-life interventions” Lee says. “We’ll have to decide how to weigh the benefits of new innovations against their costs. And those decisions are best made in the context of a public system.”

Click image above for PDF

New Nanos Poll: Canadians want more federal investment in health care

November 23, 2011

As Canada’s Ministers of Health prepare to meet in Halifax a new Nanos poll finds nearly 90% of Canadians want to see the Harper government invest more in health care with a focus on the recruitment of health care professionals.

A poll conducted by Nanos Research on behalf of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and the Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat (CHPS) finds Canadians want the Harper government to invest more in health care and address shortages of health professionals.

“The poll shows Canadians still see health care as their first priority and want the Harper government to invest more in the system,” said NUPGE’s National President James Clancy. “Corporate tax cuts are not a priority for Canadians, funding their health care system is.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Health care activists gather in Halifax for meeting of health ministers

November 22, 2011

When provincial and territorial health ministers meet in Halifax, Nova Scotia this week to discuss the upcoming federal health accord, they will be greeted by community and labour activists with a clear message about what should take place in this round of negotiations.

The federal health accord expires in 2014 but discussions across the country have already begun. Government's have been sounding the alarm saying that health care is unaffordable, yet at every turn they provide corporate tax cuts thus reducing government revenue.The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has produced Here they go again, a pamphlet which spells out how the federal transfers work and why investment is needed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why Canadians Should Fear Two-Tier

By Brianne Kirkpatrick
Public Policy and Governance Review
November 10, 2011

Over the past few months we, as a city, a province, a state, and a people, have been distracted. We have been busied by an economic crisis. Keeping up with Rob Ford’s vision for Toronto.

Swept up in the largest social movement our generation has seen in support of Occupy Wall Street. But there are other interests at work and other dialogues to which to listen. Health care, I argue, is an issue deserving constant vigilance. To look away from it for a moment is to relinquish that moment to another interested party – one that, if left unchecked, could seriously damage the quality of health care we receive in this country.

Universal health care is a symbol of Canada, both to its citizens and to its global audience. ‘Universal’ is an assumption that has become natural to Canadians. But what does universal really mean? How is the Canadian health care system universal?

National Health Insurance vs. Public Health Insurance - 1953

Medicare: A People's Issue

The Health Services Review, Dec 1953. Published by the State Hospital and Medical League (Regina, Saskatchewan) urging more action on establishing public medicare.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The health-care sky is not falling !

By Dr. Michael Rachlis
Toronto Star
November 11, 2011

Last week, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) released the latest figures on the country’s health spending. It provides a cool analytic antidote to a heated political issue. Health costs are not out of control. And the report’s findings remind us that the real issues have little to do with money.

Almost every day some politician or pundit declares that provincial health-care spending is massively out of control, eroding government’s ability to fund everything else. Our roads are full of potholes, our kids can’t do long division, and it’s all the fault of a rapacious health-care system.

Several reports have suggested that health spending will inexorably rise to 70 or even 80 per cent of provincial government program spending in the next 10 to 20 years. The CIHI graph of provincial health-care spending over time draws a very different picture from that portrayed in our public debate. Health spending was fairly steady at 33 per cent of program spending during the early and mid-1990s. After 1997, it rose rapidly to 39 per cent of program spending in 2003 before plateauing there until 2008. It has been falling since.

Federal health funding promise ends - for now

By Doug Allan
November 14, 2011

Federal Finance Minster Jim Flaherty has indicated that there is no promise to increase the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) to the provinces by 6% per year beyond the first two years after the ten year accord expires in 2014.

The public won the promise for the two years during the election -- but that's where it ends, for now.
More bad news: the Globe and Mail reports that newly re-elected Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall wants to  tie federal funding 'to health care "innovation," a term sometimes used to describe increased private-sector involvement.'
Wall wants to create more conditions for his province to receive federal funding, it seems.
Meanwhile, the federal government doesn't much bother to ensure that (in exchange for federal funding) the provinces stick to the five principles of the Canada Health Act that guarantee universal, comprehensive, accessible, portable, and publicly administered health care.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2014 Health Care Accord action preparations

Council of Canadians
November 1, 2011

The Council of Canadians, with pro-public health care allies, is organizing a citizens’ agenda and rally in Halifax, Nova Scotia when the provincial and territorial health ministers will be meeting to discuss the 2014 health care accord, November 24th-25th.

PRESS CONFERENCE on the need to protect, strengthen, and extend Medicare. 

WHEN: November 24th, at 10:00am. WHERE: Location to be announced.
  • Council of Canadians Chairperson, Maude Barlow
  • Canadian Health Coalition National Coordinator, Michael McBane
  • Nova Scotia Citizen’s Health Care Network (NSCHCN) Chair, Kyle Buott
  • Canadian Federation of Nurses Union President, Linda Silas
  • CAW President, Ken Lewenza
  • CLC President, Ken Georgetti
PUBLIC FORUM on the next health care accord

WHEN: November 24th, 6:30pm. WHERE: Saint Andrews Church (corner of Robie & Cobourg, Halifax)
The event, co-hosted by the Council of Canadians and the NSCHCN, will feature a keynote address by Maude Barlow, Chair of the Council of Canadians, followed by short presentations on innovation in the public health care system by health care workers Linda Silas, CFNU and Elizabeth Ballaston, Chairperson of the Health Professionals Secretariat. The remainder of the evening will focus on the creation of a 2014 Citizens’ Agenda where Nova Scotians will advocate for what they want in the next health care accord.

RALLY to protect public health care

WHEN: November 25th, 12pm. WHERE: Victoria Park (Spring Garden Rd and South St)
The rally will take place across the street from the Health Ministers’ meeting. The rally will be to support the call to protect, strengthen and extend Medicare in the 2014 health care accord.
For More Information:

Adrienne Silnicki, Health Campaigner, Council of Canadians, 902.422.7811,
Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 613.795.8685,
Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs, #2014HealthAccord

The subtle contours of the new medicare debate

By Thomas Walkom 
Toronto Star
Nov 01 2011

Get set for the next round of fighting over medicare. The battle lines will become clearer as we approach the 2014 date when Ottawa has to renegotiate its health deals with the provinces. But the contours are already emerging.

First, expect a more subtle dispute. In the past, Canadian medicare battles have been waged over the Canada Health Act, the federal law that effectively bans private funding of most physician and hospital services.

Ten years ago, anti-medicare forces argued that Canada’s health-care system just wasn’t working and that only the addition of a second, private tier of medicine — funded through private insurance — would solve the problems.