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This 'cure' makes me ill (Calgary Herald)

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Calgary Herald 2006.03.02 Final The Editorial Page A14 Naomi Lakritz Naomi Lakritz Calgary Herald 480

Three weeks ago, Health Minister Iris Evans was breathing fire over a concierge health−care service wanting to set up shop in Calgary. The service would allow doctors to work in both the public and private systems. Evans made much noise about how violating the Canada Health Act wouldn't be tolerated. Now, she's all set to violate it herself with the Third Way, and allow doctors to work in both systems at once, to the detriment of the public system. The concierge service would have seen doctors put public patients' appointments on hold to run out to tend to their rich clients' boo−boos first. The Third Way will require doctors to log an undefined "minimum" of time in the public system before heading off to heal the rich. The rich may get healed this way, but the public system sure won't. Wait times are already long because there aren't enough specialists. Just imagine how much longer the un−rich will wait once these overworked specialists in short supply spend a bare "minimum" with public patients. Sure, the number of people in line will drop when the rich jump the queue, but they'll take their doctors with them and those in the public lineup will wait even longer. According to the government's Waitlist Registry, as of January, 3,389 Albertans were waiting for knee replacements. The largest percentage −− 28 per cent −− will wait seven to 12 months. The median wait is four to six months. Perhaps Iris in Wonderland could explain how requiring the surgeons who do these operations to spend "minimum" time in the public system will benefit these people. Silly me. I forgot! If patients don't have $10,000 −− the government's estimate of the cost of a knee replacement −− to buy their own way back to health, too bad! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, people! Surely, you can scrounge up $10,000. Have you checked under your sofa cushions for loose change? Diana Gibson, of the Parkland Institute, pointed out in February that European two−tier systems don't allow doctors to practise in both public and private arenas, as Alberta intends to. When doctors do both, they spend more time in the private because they make more money there. Speaking of money, just wait till the insurance companies get their mitts on Alberta. Doctors will be spending even less time seeing patients because they'll be busy filling out forms −− the bugaboo of U.S. doctors.

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