TORONTO, Feb. 15, 2012 /CNW/ - Today's release of the Don Drummond report on the review of Ontario's public services is chapter one in a move to privatize Ontario's health care system, charges Michael Hurley the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
By unbundling medical procedures currently available through public hospitals into a patchwork of private clinics and pushing patients into a home care system where 10,000 Ontarians are already waiting for supports, the Liberals are setting the stage for health care privatization chapter two down the road.
Earlier this winter, Drummond alluded to a two phase health care reform process in an interview with CBC's The House. "At some point…you have to bring in some revenues…so there has to be a second chapter," he said. In one interview, Drummond calls the Canada Health Act "irrelevant". Several Drummond-authored reports clearly show he is a proponent of greater private sector involvement in health care, user fees and even imposing a tax on Ontario's sickest - generally seniors and the poor.
The private clinics will be funded on a fee-for-service basis, a model that in the United Kingdom has opened the door to privatization and increased costs by introducing new administrative costs. In Ontario, fee-for-service compensation for ophthalmologists has already driven their average earnings to over $600,000. Some earn more than $1.1 million.
Weighing down public health care with extra administrative costs and greed is not good public policy. "Working people can't afford it. In the meantime, the doctors themselves will reap huge financial rewards. While the health minister argues that for now these clinics will be set up as not-for-profit there is the potential for a mega-multinational health care outfit to buy them," Hurley adds.
Ontario's air ambulance company ORNGE was set up by the Liberals as a not-for-profit. Even within the not-for-profit framework ORNGE principals found ways to slip in the profit motive. "They gamed the system for millions of dollars of public funds. It appears as though the Liberals are willfully blind to the lessons from the ORNGE fiasco. They are playing with fire," says Hurley.
Ontario hospitals are considered the most efficient in the country and among the best in patient outcomes. While hospitals are far from perfect, says Hurley, there are long-established oversight and accountability measures both in terms of care standards and financial controls.
"It's hard to imagine why our health minister thinks dialysis clinics and other procedures should be done in mobile trailers and shopping malls. Often patients have complex conditions that require a full range of specialized supports which are now available to them in our public hospitals. That will change drastically under this private clinic model," says Hurley.
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