Keep Alberta health privatization out of Saskatchewan
Costs of surgery in for-profit clinics will escalate and exceed cost of public non-profit facilities after introductory offer.
by Ross Hinther
The Saskatchewan Government is copying the Alberta health care delivery model by financing the expansion of private for profit surgery clinics. The failed model fragments the system, removes scarce human resources (doctors, nurses) from the public system, increases costs, increases wait lists for some patients, and reduces transparency and accountability.
The first privatization step of the Saskatchewan Government, is the expansion of the private sector paid for by taxpayers, at the same time constraining funding for the public sector. The Health Coalition is concerned that all of the Health Regions hospitals have not been given access to the $5.5 million to further decrease wait lists for elective surgeries. Last year the Government deferred $3 million in capital funding for a public Regina ambulatory clinic so it would not be an option
The next step towards privatization of healthcare in Saskatchewan, is likely Activity- Based funding (hospitals paid by procedure) where the hospitals get less and the private for-profit clinics get more by doing quick high volume profitable procedures. Wait times increase for the frail and elderly as the hospitals try to cope with the more complicated cases with less funding. The major impediment to further waiting list reduction is the province-wide shortage of health professionals. Moving them is not the answer.
The costs of surgery in private for profit clinics will escalate and exceed the cost of public non-profit facilities after the private clinics introductory offer. Alberta Health Services says the cost of hip and knee surgery in Edmonton's Royal Alex Hospital is $4,500 while the private for-profit Health Resources Centre cost is $14,000.
The government must disclose all the costs of privatization including facility fees, loan guarantees, etc. to meet its goal of transparency and not hide behind commercial contracts. Does the Workmen's Compensation Board already pay more for a procedure done in a private for profit clinic than it pays a hospital or non-profit clinic?
Other provinces are already having accountability and transparency problems with private for profit clinics. Dr. Brian Day's private clinics have refused access to its books by the
BC Government. The BC Medical Services Commission has received at least 30 complaints that the clinics have engaged in double-billing by requesting payment from both the patient and the provincial government.
Where is the evidence and who benefits from the privatization of Medicare? Private investor rights trump patient rights as investor rights are protected by trade agreements, NAFTA, TILMA (Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement).
The Saskatchewan Health Coalition urges the Saskatchewan Government to put patients first and not copy the failed privatization model of other provinces.
Ross Hinther is a member of the Saskatchewan Health Coalition. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Ross Hinther email
Posted: May 06, 2010
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