A crackdown on double dipping by doctors will be part of a proposal by the minority Liberals today to gain the support of the New Democrats to stave off defeat in the House of Commons.
Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh is drafting the offer to the NDP as the government tries to survive the fierce political fallout from Justice John Gomery's blockbuster findings on the sponsorship scandal.
Double dipping refers to a practice in which some doctors offer patients the same services in the insured public system or more quickly in private clinics for higher fees. Some medicare advocates have been urging Ottawa to guarantee that the public health system be kept completely separate from privately delivered services.
Although the practice of double dipping is not widespread, both Layton and Dosanjh have expressed concern about it and Layton, in his talks with the Liberals, has been demanding a ban on it in the Canada Health Act. Such a provision would head off any future attempts by the provinces to allow it. Dosanjh and New Democrat MP Jean Crowder, the party's health critic, are expected to meet this afternoon to discuss the Liberals' health-care proposals. If the offer meets with Crowder's approval, there will be discussions between Layton and the Prime Minister.
Look how cheaply Jack Layton can be bought!
Banning double-dipping will not protect the NDP's beloved public health care monopoly in the long run: it will instead force physicians to choose between practicing in the public or private systems. Nor will such a ban bring more money back into the public system.
If Jack Layton accepts this deal, the Liberals will be able to keep buying him off with less and less until they can pull the plug themselves when it looks like they can get a majority government.
The NDP is going to find itself in the same position it was after the 1974 election: used, abused, decimated, and leaderless.
Source: Toronto Star