The following article by Karen Palmer appeared in the May 24, 2016 issue of the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper:
In a dramatic show of physician support for deep health-care reform in the U.S., more than 2,200 physician leaders have signed a “Physician’s Proposal” calling for sweeping change.
The proposal, published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, calls for the creation of a publicly financed, single-payer, national health program to cover all Americans for all medically necessary care.
If that sounds familiar, it should. These American doctors are calling for Canadian-style medicare. They want a decisive break from the expensive and inefficient private-insurance industry at the heart of the U.S. health-care system.
How ironic that at the same time U.S. physicians are calling for a single-payer health system like ours, Canada is in the midst of a legal battle threatening to pave the way for a multi-payer system resembling what has failed Americans.
What’s at stake? A trial about to begin in British Columbia threatens to make the Canada Health Act unenforceable.
The Canada Health Act is federal legislation that guides our health-care system. It strongly discourages private payment for medically necessary hospital and physician services covered under our publicly funded medicare plans. This includes out-of-pocket payments in the form of extra-billing or other user charges. Legislation in most provinces further prohibits private insurance that duplicates what is already covered under provincial plans.
If patients are billed for medically necessary hospital and physician care, the federal government is mandated to withhold an equivalent amount from federal cash transfers to provinces or territories violating the act.
At least that’s what supposed to happen.
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