Burden, or Responsibility?!?

Tue Jan 18 18:08:59 MST 2000

As far as I'm concerned Mr. Harris can go ahead with his scheme.  A
nation can't have too many doctors and those who are fed up with Harris'
BS in Ontario would be welcome here.

"John A. Quayle" wrote:
> The Free Congress Commentary Placing the Burden of Health Care Where It
> Should Be
> by Paul M.  Weyrich
>         I just returned from my third visit to Canada in the past four months. We
> so often think that Canada is just like the United States that we forget
> how much further down the road to a New Age Society they really are.
>         The big debate these days is in Ontario. There the Premier Mike Harris,
> who is a Progressive Conservative, is trying to put a salary cap on the
> amount of money doctors can earn from Canada's health care system. He
> contends that if a doctor earns more than $150,000 in federal fees, then he
> should be willing to see patients for the rest of the year at a vastly
> reduced rate.
>         Doctors are outraged at this proposal, saying that if the cap is imposed
> they will simply refuse to see all but the most urgent of cases. Harris
> says if they pull that caper, they should have their medical licenses revoked.
>         Callers to talk shows weigh in on both sides. One lady who sided with the
> premier pointed out that taxpayers pay all of the tuition of doctors to go
> to medical school so "they can be expected to give something back."
>         Premier Harris has the reputation of being an otherwise innovative
> official. Some pundits point to him as a possible contender to bring back
> the Progressive Conservatives on the national level. That party, after two
> terms in Parliament with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, went from a strong
> majority in Parliament to just two seats, in one of the most humiliating
> defeats ever suffered by a modern political party. Subsequently Harris was
> elected in Ontario and has been seen as a problem solver who stays within
> generally accepted conservative principles. So the Progressive
> Conservatives, who hope to rebuild, have their eye on him.
>         Harris can't be blamed for trying to get Canada's universal access health
> care system under control. The system is bankrupt and service is
> deteriorating. But Harris is going at it the wrong way. The problem there
> isn't going to be solved by trying to put the burden on the doctors.
>         That is the Kennedy-style solution to health care costs in the United
> States, which has placed the burden on the hospitals as well as the doctors
> to "contain costs". The problem is with the patients.
>         The truth is that when you have universal access health care, all sorts of
> people use the system when they would never do so if they were paying the
> bill. It is politically incorrect to say so, but in this country many of
> the elderly have procedures done which have little to do with their
> ultimate well being.
>         Why?
>         Because when they are in the hospital, relatives call.  They get flowers.
> Nurses come and ask how they are doing. At home, the phone doesn't ring
> that often. As the family has disintegrated, the toll has been taken on
> that end of the age spectrum as well.
>         The solution to health care costs lies with medical savings accounts.
> Employers who offer these have drastically cut health care outlays for
> their employees. Each person gets an account. Some money is taken from it
> to buy catastrophic insurance. That way, if a really serious illness hits,
> the individual isn't left to fend for himself. He can get long-term care
> when needed. But the rest of the money can be spent as he sees fit.  What
> he doesn't spend on health care at the end of the year, he pockets.  My, my
> how the use of doctors and emergency rooms and neighborhood clinics has
> declined under that system.
>         No one is suffering on account of it. People just make careful choices.
> They think about that thousand dollars left over at the end of the year and
> they see the down payment on a new car or a bigger TV set or a nice
> vacation. They don't use the health care system unless they really need to.
> Harris, as a conservative (even a Canadian Conservative) should know better.
>         He will fail if he tries to scapegoat the doctors for health care costs.
> He ought to be pushing for medical savings accounts. That puts the burden
> for health care costs where it should be...on the individual who uses the
> system. If only the American election can filter out candidates for the
> presidency for whom medical savings accounts are a priority. Then we can
> have that debate in this country. Should a candidate favoring medical
> savings accounts get elected president, Canada could be shown the way.  It
> is certain, the way things are going in our neighbor to the North, they
> will not have any successful policy to commend to the United States. More's
> the pity. It would be so easy for them to be the shining example for a change.
>         Paul Weyrich is president of the Free Congress Foundation. For media
> inquiries, contact Robert McFarland 202.546.3000
> rmcfarland at freecongress.org For other questions or comments, contact Angie
> Wheeler awheeler at freecongress.org Visit Our Website at
> http://www.FreeCongress.org

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