Health policy expert testifies in defence of public health care in Cambie case

The BC Health Coalition is an intervenor in the Dr. Brian Day and Cambie Surgeries court case. Following is a recap of what they have been up to, both inside and outside the courtroom.

SOHC is a member of the BCHC and we are following this case closely.


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1. Health policy expert testifies in defence of public health care in Cambie case

Public health expert Dr. David Himmelstein, M.D. took the stand in the Cambie case to offer a comparative analysis of the US and Canadian health care systems.  Dr. Himmelstein, the second expert witness brought by our intervenor group, is a well-respected health policy professor at City University of New York School of Public Health and lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Himmelstein has studied the impacts of for-profit healthcare and private insurance in the U.S. for decades.

Dr. Himmelstein’s evidence went to the heart of Cambie Surgeries’ central claims, and refuted the deceptions relied on by Cambie in an attempt to prove their case. He  testified to the overall societal costs to health care if Cambie Surgeries’ legal attack against the public health care system were to be successful. Dr. Himmelstein gave evidence on the dangers of introducing private insurance into single-payer health care systems such as Canada’s, and the risks of allowing for-profit healthcare organizations to operate.

2. BC Health Coalition experts debunk myth that private clinics and for-profit health care decrease wait times

We hosted an in-depth conversation with Dr. Steffi Woolhandler and Dr. Himmelstein, two of our experts in the Cambie case. They drew on their expertise in the American private health care system, where access to and quality of health care is greatly unequal, and wait times can be very long.

Watch a video of the experts’ talk. Know friends or family who would be interested in this fascinating look into the U.S. system? Share now.

The experts’ knowledge provided critical insights debunking the claims made by Dr. Day and Cambie Surgeries that allowing private clinics and for-profit health care reduces wait times. As both doctors explained, introducing private health care options into single-payer systems like Canada’s does not decrease wait times for medical procedures. Rather, research shows that:

•      The two-tier health care system has substantial wait times, especially for those who are unable to pay extra;

•      Doctors work the same number of hours regardless of whether it is in the private or public health care system;

•      Private health care results in unequal and insufficient care because the decisions to schedule patients are based on  potential profits over need.

Closing arguments are scheduled through the Fall with the case expected to wrap up by the end of the year. We’ll keep you posted with updates and invitations to attend court. Thank you for your continued support and attention to this case that has such profound impact on one of our most cherished public services.  

In Solidarity, 

Edith MacHattie,
Co-Chair of the BC Health Coalition

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