Friday, February 17, 2006

Wait No Longer

Read this Globe and Mail article about Quebec's plans to guarantee wait times for surgery by paying for treatment in private clinics and note the general lack of hysteria about two-tier health care or dire warnings about the boogeyman of "American" health care.

The proposals are the government's formal response to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in June that Quebeckers should be allowed to buy private medical insurance if basic medical care is not provided in a timely fashion. The province was given one year to speed up care or lift the ban on private insurance, a move that would have led to parallel systems of private and government-funded health care.

"We chose to maintain the principles of the public health-care system within which the private sector can play a role," Mr. Charest said, adding that Quebec could serve as a model for the rest of the country. "Other Canadians may choose to go down that route."

Under the proposals, the government promises to provide cataract, hip and knee surgery within six months of the day a specialist recommends the operation. If government-funded hospitals cannot perform the procedure within that time, the government will pay to have it done at certified private clinics affiliated with a hospital.

If the operation cannot be done anywhere in Quebec within nine months, the government will pay to send the patient outside the province, including to the United States.

Could you have imagined such an article being published even two years ago in Canada's national newspaper without endless editorial breast-beating and scaremongering?

Look how quickly one of the central doctrines of the Canadian civic religion has been discarded by its scribes and exegetes, without a pang of regret.

Too many people have seen family and friends suffer and die needlessly waiting for surgery to keep the faith any longer.

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