Health Coalition attacks American TV ad in open letter to Barack Obama: "Listen to Canadians, not Brian Day and his for-profit friends"



    OTTAWA, May 8 /CNW Telbec/ - In a tough open letter to President Barack
Obama, the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) is taking on Dr. Brian Day, current
past president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), and an American
conservative group running TV ads against health care reform.
    "We are urging President Obama to listen to the overwhelming number of
Canadians who value and depend on our public health care, not to Brian Day and
his for-profit friends," said Michael McBane, national coordinator of the
Canadian Health Coalition. "Medicare has been good to Canadians since the
1960s when we parted from the American model."
    Dr. Day, whose private surgical clinic in British Columbia is currently
under investigation by the B.C. government for illegal billing practices,
appears in an ad running on American TV for Conservatives for Patient's Rights
(CPR). (http://www.cpractionfund.org/) The ad is part of a million dollar
campaign attacking President Obama's plan to overhaul the nation's health care
system. In the ad, Dr. Day - a strong proponent of privatizing Canada's public
health system - sides with those who would privatize the system, sharing
horror stories of government-run health care programs.
    The campaign sponsor, CPR, is a conservative organization founded by Rick
Scott, the discredited former owner of Columbia/HCA, one of the largest
private health care companies in the world. In 1997, his board of directors
removed him from office during the largest health care fraud scandal in the
United States. The company was forced to pay $1.7 billion in fines for
overbilling state and federal government health plans.
    This campaign slogan- 'Putting Patients First' - is borrowed from the
drug industry and really means 'Putting Profits First'.
    "Dr. Day and Rick Scott should not be allowed to speak for people who
need and deserve quality health care," said Mr. McBane. "We want President
Obama to understand the benefits of Canada's public health system."
    In the open letter, Mr. McBane points out several critical differences
between Canadian and American health care.
    "Mr. President, we know that you are deeply concerned about the 46
million Americans who have no medical coverage. We're proud to say that Canada
covers every Canadian citizen. Canadians live three years longer than
Americans, and our infant mortality rate is 20% lower. Canada spends 10% of
its GDP on health care, compared to 15.3% in the United States, yet we
generally get more services. Economically, Canada's public health system
dramatically reduces costs for business, particularly the hard-hit
manufacturing sectors, because of higher prices and administrative costs in
the primarily private U.S. system."
    Mr. McBane urged the President to look at the consistent level of support
among Canadians for the public health care system. "Canadians recognize our
system can always be improved, but they overwhelmingly want public sector
improvements, not for-profit private companies taking our scare health care
dollars. Our two countries need to stand together to strengthen public health
care across the border and to protect the right to public health care from
financially motivated doctors and insurance companies."
    "It remains shocking to us that Dr. Day, a past president of the CMA, is
participating in a campaign to de-rail the efforts of the American people to
secure their right to health care by misrepresenting the facts about Canada.
This is a breach of fundamental ethical obligations of the medical profession,
namely, a commitment to best evidence and avoidance of conflict of interest.
    "Canadians and Americans both need more public health care not less.
Private markets and commercial competition will make things worse, not better.

    
       The Canadian Health Coalition is a not-for-profit, non-partisan
             organization dedicated to protecting and expanding
       Canada's public health system for the benefit of all Canadians.
       It includes organizations representing seniors, women, churches,
           nurses, health care workers and anti-poverty activists
                             from across Canada.

    See letter below:


    Letter sent to President Obama:

    Barack Obama                                                 May 7, 2009
    President of the United States of America
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear Mr. President:

    As the national voice for Canadians who want to protect and expand our
    national public healthcare system, the Canadian Health Coalition would
    like to encourage your efforts to make health care available and
    affordable for all Americans.

    Canada's national Medicare system is one that all Canadians value and
    depend on for quality care. Our goal as an organization is to ensure that
    this excellent system is expanded and protected for the benefit of all
    Canadians.

    We are therefore very distressed by a television ad currently running in
    the United States that is sponsored by the Conservatives for Patients'
    Rights (CPR) and featuring the former president of the Canadian Medical
    Association, Dr. Brian Day. In this ad, Dr. Day purports to represent
    Canadians and Canadian physicians in criticizing our public health care
    system.

    Mr. President, we urge you to listen to Canadians, and not to Dr. Day and
    those who want to introduce more private, for profit health services into
    Canada and the United States.

    Dr. Day, whose private surgical clinic in British Columbia is currently
    under investigation by the B.C. government for illegal billing, does not
    represent the values of Canadians. As you know, Rick Scott, the sponsor
    of the CPR ads, is the discredited former owner of Columbia/HCA, one of
    the largest private health care companies in the world. In 1997, his
    board of directors removed him from office during the largest health care
    fraud scandal in the United States. The company was forced to pay $1.7
    billion in fines for overbilling state and federal government health
    plans.

    Dr. Day and Rick Scott should not be allowed to speak for people who need
    and deserve quality health care.

    Mr. President, we know that you are deeply concerned about the 46 million
    Americans who have no medical coverage. We're proud to say that Canada
    covers every Canadian citizen. Canadians live 3 years longer than
    Americans, and our infant mortality rate is 20% lower. Canada spends 10%
    of its GDP on health care, compared to 15.3% in the United States, yet we
    generally get more services. Economically, Canada's public health system
    dramatically reduces costs for business, particularly the hard-hit
    manufacturing sectors, because of higher prices and administrative costs
    in the primarily private U.S. system.

    Canadians recognize our system can always be improved, but they
    overwhelmingly want public sector improvements, not for-profit private
    companies taking our scarce health care dollars. Our two countries need
    to stand together to strengthen public health care across the border and
    to protect the right to public health care from financially motivated
    doctors and insurance companies.

    It remains shocking to us that Dr. Day, a past president of the CMA, is
    participating in a campaign to de-rail the efforts of the American people
    to secure their right to health care by misrepresenting the facts about
    Canada. This is a breach of fundamental ethical obligations of the
    medical profession, namely, a commitment to best evidence and avoidance
    of conflict of interest.

    Canadians and Americans both need more public health care, not less.
    Private markets and commercial competition will make things worse, not
    better.

    As Dr. Arnold Relman, Professor Emeritus at the Harvard Medical School
    testified before the Senate of Canada:

    "The U. S. experience has shown that private markets and commercial
    competition have made things worse, not better, for our health care
    system. That could have been predicted, because health care is clearly a
    public concern and a personal right of all citizens. By its very nature,
    it is fundamentally different from most other good and services
    distributed in commercial markets. Markets simply are not designed to
    deal effectively with the delivery of medical care - which is a social
    function that needs to be addressed in the public sector. ...

    Many of us south of the border have always believed that you Canadians
    had the right idea in deciding that the financing of health care is
    primarily a public responsibility. We still think you are right and that
    we ought to emulate you, rather than vice versa."

    We wish you every success in your efforts to reform America's health care
    system for the benefit of all your citizens.

    If we can at any time share with you or your team the benefits of our
    excellent system, we would be happy to do so.

    Yours sincerely,

    "signed"

    Michael McBane
    National Coordinator
    Canadian Health Coalition
    




For further information:

For further information: Michael McBane, National Coordinator, Canadian
Health Coalition, (613) 277-6295; www.medicare.ca


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890