THE LAWSUIT THAT COULD REVOLUTIONIZE CANADIAN HEALTH CARE AS WE KNOW IT
By Marni Soupcoff,
Last week, I read an email asking for money to help defeat a “dangerous legal challenge” that will “weaken the Canadian economy.”
The scourge that had got the sender into such a lather? A lawsuit based on the audacious premise that Canadians who are suffering or dying on a wait list should be able to pay to access the health care they need.
Pay for our own care, or that of a loved one? Why it’s virtually sacrilege to even think it. That would be “U.S.-style” care, the email explained — a label that is supposed to end all debate.
But the debate is happening anyway. And that is driving Medicare purists such as the above-quoted e-mailer (B.C. Healthcare Coalition co-chair Rick Turner) nuts.
As the "Toronto Star" newspaper reported last month, Toronto doctor Danielle Martin (whose telling-off of a U.S. Republican senator spawned a viral YouTube clip earlier this year) saw fit to warn a union gathering that this legal case is “the biggest threat to [Canada's] medicare system in this generation.”
Given the rhetoric, you might think that some bogeyman is trying to take “free” health care away from Canadians.
But here’s what’s actually happening:
Four British Columbians who suffered real physical harm while waiting for access to health care will be in court in September, along with Vancouver’s Cambie Surgical Centre, arguing for all Canadians’ right to make their own healthcare choices. That includes paying out of pocket or through private insurance for an MRI or other crucial test or surgery if the government can’t make it available when it’s needed.
These plaintiffs aren’t individuals out to destroy Canada’s public healthcare model. They are human beings who have been forced to pay with their own wellbeing [health], or even their lives, for an abstract government-imposed ideal
Three of the plaintiffs in the case are teenagers whose young lives already have been negatively shaped by the ban on accessing private care. They include:
Walid Waitkus, a 16-year-old with progressive spine deformity, who was paralyzed after a 27-MONTH wait for care;
Chris Chiavatti (18-years-old) who suffered permanent damage while waiting for treatment of his knee injury.
Mandy Martens who saw her colon cancer spread while she languished on a WAIT LIST.
And note that TWO other British Columbians were originally part of the action, but they DIED waiting for the case to go to trial.
These plaintiffs aren’t individuals out to destroy Canada’s public healthcare model. They are human beings who have been forced to pay with their own well being and lives for an abstract government-imposed ideal that has long since ceased working in practice.
These aren’t people asking for “U.S.-style” care. They are patients asking for the healthcare choice that is available to residents of every other democracy in the world except Canada [and North Korea]:
They are simply asking for the option to pay for needed treatment, to end or reduce their own suffering, if the government can’t end or reduce it for them.
As the executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, which is supporting the constitutional challenge, I have heard many arguments against the case. Most of them declare that a system in which everyone can pay privately for access to timely healthcare is inferior to a system in which the government pays for access to timely healthcare for everyone. As the B.C. Healthcare collation puts: “Canadians take pride in a system that looks after all of us when we need it.”
The problem is that this venerated system, which “looks after all of us when we need it,” DOES NOT EXIST IN CANADA.
If it did, it would have looked after Walid, Chris and Mandy, and there would not be 1-million other Canadians currently waiting for necessary health care.
But isn’t paying for private care “queue jumping”? A better metaphor for seeking to pay for one’s own care is removing oneself from the queue entirely and thereby shortening the wait for everyone else. Which is not such a terrible thing. Indeed, it may be the only thing that will relieve enough pressure on the public system to allow it to deliver care (specialists, diagnostics, procedures, surgeries) when it’s needed.
A lawsuit that seeks to empower Canadians to care for their own health will be seen as a “dangerous legal challenge” only by those who value “medicare” as a CONCEPT, more than they value the VICTIMS it is supposed to serve.
What is ultimately more compassionate? A system that proudly eschews private money while holding its patients hostage; or a system that guarantees public funding while allowing its patients to choose their own path to health?
[Marni Soupcoff is executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, which is supporting the Cambie constitutional challenge in B.C. You can reach her by e-mail at: msoupcoff @theCCF.CA]
MY OWN RESPONSE:
Well, I told she knows what she's talking about.
But it's not out of paternal pride that I include this important commentary on these pages.
No, it's because I think it's a warning to American's, in particular, where they're headed in the future, if the Obama/Pelosi/Reid unaffordable "affordable health care act" (aka OBMACARE) juggernaut isn't halted very soon.
Yes, welcome to the very systemic abuses that Democrate apologists have insisted can't happen: (1) healh-care rationing by nameless bureaucrats; (2) systemic abuses, similar to the current VA Administration scandal, including the unnecessary deaths of patients -- but in this case, the toll could be in the MILLIONS; and (3) ultimately the greatest scourge of socialized medicine -- DEATH PANELS.
But as a victim of a one-size-fits-all socialized medicine system myself (here in Canada), my further warning to complacent Americans is:
1) Prepare for longer and longer wait times to see a specialist (if he or she is even taking on more patients)
2) Prepare for ridiculously long waits at hospital emergency centres, even if means that some of those waiting will DIE before they are even seen by a doctor.
And 3) don't even be surprised to see cold-hearted calculations, by government economists. to use the remains of aborted fetuses to heat hospitals, as has been the case in Britain for several years now.
LEGACY OF A NARCISSISTIC PRESIDENT:
Barack Obama's narcissistic dreams of a personal legacy -- in the form of the socialized health-care system which he named after himself -- is just the slippery slope in an inevitable slide (if not stopped), in America, to an Orwellian authoritarian state in which the government makes all decisions for you -- like perhaps even what you can eat, as dictated by self-anointed 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Michelle Obama herself.
Please circulate this "commentary" to anyone you know (for example family, friends or work colleagues), accompanied by the simple cautionary note, STOP AMERICA'S DECLINE UNDER THE OBAMAS.