Friday, July 17, 2009

Healthy discussions

The battle within the medical profession as to the importance of preserving public health care (with Doctors for Medicare all too often having to counterbalance the pro-privatization musings of the Canadian Medical Association) will be coming to Saskatoon this August. And a couple of familiar faces will be leading the charge to preserve and improve the public health care system:
Doctors for Medicare is planning an event at the Broadway Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 16 -- the eve of the CMA meetings -- to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Canada Health Act and to emphasize its support for a publicly funded, single-payer system.
Martin and Saskatoon family physician Dr. Ryan Meili, who is the local representative for the pro-medicare group, say it's more important than ever to support a public system.

"There are limitations to any system. The answer is not to set up private clinics," Meili said.
Meili will emcee the Aug. 16 event at the Broadway Theatre. Speakers will include Martin and former premier Roy Romanow, who led a national health-care review.

Romanow said he's not participating to be for or against any group. Rather, he wants to show his support for the Canada Health Act.

In tough financial times, the calls for private solutions increase, he said. It happened in 1995 when he was premier, and he hopes it doesn't happen again.

"If history is any lesson, some will call for privatization," said Romanow.

Romanow said some of his recommended reforms have been implemented, but others have stalled. The most needed reform is "catastrophic" drug coverage for families hit with an illness requiring expensive medications.
Unfortunately, there's been far too little talk of actually trying to improve health care for Canadians (through catastrophic drug coverage or otherwise) over the past few years: the federal NDP's efforts to strengthen the system have fallen on deaf ears from both the Libs and Cons, while the provincial effort to make prescription drugs more affordable was rolled back by the Wall government.

But the more time high-profile figures like Meili and Romanow put into raising the issues currently facing health care in Canada and pointing out that there are in fact positive answers in contrast to privatization, the greater the chance of better outcomes in years and election cycles to come. And hopefully a high-profile Doctors for Medicare event will help to shape the discussion both inside and outside the medical profession in Saskatchewan.

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