Two-tier health care trou­bling

Toronto Star - - NEWS -

Re PCs mak­ing se­cret moves to back pri­vate health care, Hep­burn, Jan. 10

As Bob Hep­burn ex­plains, un­der the guise of em­brac­ing change and new models of pa­tient care, Premier Doug Ford is aim­ing for a two-tier health-care sys­tem in On­tario.

Nu­mer­ous ju­ris­dic­tions have shown that two-tier sys­tems do not im­prove wait times or health out­comes. Pri­vate clin­ics siphon doc­tors and spe­cial­ists from the pub­licly funded sys­tem with fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives, cre­at­ing longer wait times in the pub­lic sys­tem. For-profit pri­vate clin­ics have less in­cen­tive to pro­vide good qual­ity care. The more they spend on the pa­tient, the less there is for prof­its.

Pa­tients us­ing pri­vate clin­ics of­ten pay ex­tra for ser­vices that are free in the pub­lic sys­tem. This was the case in 2012, when Dr. Brian Day, founder of pri­vate clin­ics in Van­cou­ver was found to use im­proper billing prac­tices, in­clud­ing charg­ing pa­tients for ser­vices cov­ered by the pub­lic sys­tem, in vi­o­la­tion of the Medi­care Pro­tec­tion Act.

We dare not al­low two-tier health care in this prov­ince. Pamela Mul­li­gan, Grimsby, Ont.

As a sup­porter and user of On­tario’s pub­lic health sys­tem, I am deeply trou­bled, but not sur­prised, read­ing about Doug Ford’s covert plans to cre­ate two-tier health care.

A re­spon­si­ble and eth­i­cal gov­ern­ment would strive to achieve bet­ter health out­comes and ag­gres­sively re­duce health costs. Re­duc­ing re­dun­dant di­ag­nos­tic tests, en­cour­ag­ing healthy life­styles and reg­u­lat­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ards that im­pair health, like noise, air and wa­ter pol­lu­tion, are good places to start. Harold B. Smith, Toronto

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