What's Wrong with Healthcare?

Thinking inside and outside of the healthcare box. After 41 years of family practice, what's happened to Canada's healthcare system?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Conservative Leadership Forum in Calgary

Well that was a waste of time! The other night I attended the Alberta Conservative forum at the Red and White Club in Calgary hoping to hear something about what many Albertans rate as their Number One concern-----health care. NADDA. The only two candidates that dared to go there were Lyle Oberg (who claimed health care was the elephant IN the bed with Albertans, and Ted Morton (who claimed the health care system didn’t need more money, just more choice). Well Ted, if it doesn’t need more money, why is it unsustainable? I think he meant it needs money from sources other than the government’s budget, but he didn’t elaborate. Lyle Oberg’s plan, on the other hand, allows physicians to practice in both the private and the public system; but physicians would have to dedicate at least 75% of their time in the public system. Well, that is better than the existing situation, but someone should tell Dr. Oberg that as a general rule, no-one is happy working where they don’t wish to be working, and the attitude of these physicians (conscripted into doing public work) may be less than compassionate. When I was at a medical conference in Brazil, years ago, Brazil had such a system, and the people felt the attitude of physicians working in the public system was terrible! But I digress.
When the forum began, the audience was encouraged to write down questions and was led to believe these questions would be addressed by the candidates. Naturally, I wrote down questions about health care. Within five minutes of starting, it was apparent that all questions were prepared and circulated to the candidates in advance of the forum. Further the questions were designed so that the candidates and the Conservative party was going to “look good”; in other words, the entire affair was a “public relations” and “news media” event And you know it, no questions were posed on health care, the number one concern of most Albertans (obviously a divisive area).Could well have been the worst five bucks I have ever spent! Other than Dr. Oberg and Ted Morton, the other candidates did not allow “health care” to cross their lips.
Not to be totally sidelined, I cornered Jim Dinning and asked him if he could talk on health care without using the word “innovation”. He felt that he would be compelled to mention the “innovative” bone and joint program that has prospects of shortening hip and knee replacements. When reminded that this pilot project is being subsidized to the tune of twenty million dollars a year (approximately 12 ½% of the total provincial budget for joint replacements), he simply said he wasn’t ready to give up on the existing system (as though having private provider {and insurance} involvement automatically meant the demise of the universal, publicly funded, health care system we have at present).). I had a brief discussion with Ed. Stelmach on health care. He seemed to think Dr. Le Reich (a previous president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta) was responsible for the cut backs in graduating doctors in Canada. Now, Dr. LeReich struck me as a genuine socialist, but I doubt if he single handedly convinced Canadian provincial governments that the way to go was to decrease physician manpower in Canada. Further, Ed did not seem aware of the Barer-Stoddard Report (which is usually given “credit” for the cutting back of physician training in Canada), and its impact on our health care system.
All in all, although the candidates presented the idea that they were going to “listen to the congregation” they seemed more intent on preaching; except of course in health care, where the majority were as quiet as the proverbial church mouse!.

2 Comments:

Blogger Bring It On said...

I agree it was pretty lame but for the record, my question was written half way thru the event and made it through the screening process. It wasn't healthcare because the event was skewed to youth so I asked about young farmers.

7/10/06 4:40 PM  
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