The federal government is preparing for a national conversation on how to pay for and reform health care.
Yay! Finally some sanity in government. Unfortunately I don't think Harper will make the right choices and the Canadian public are too emotional to make logical decisions, but nevertheless this is a start. At least we're talking about reform!
The current federal-provincial health accord doesn't expire for well over three years. But large chunks of the bureaucracy are already kicking into high gear, decision-makers are actively engaged in talks with experts, and the brainstorming has begun, The Canadian Press has learned.
The large chunks of bureaucracy are already kicking to high gear. That's about the essence of our health-care system, isn't it? Just large chunks of bureaucracy layered over federal, provincial and municipal governments. No wonder a lot of doctors would rather practice in the states. And just wait until the pension bomb explodes and nurses are pissed off. If there's one thing you want to avoid it's a pissed off nurse.
But let's delay it! The current accord doesn't expire until 2013. How likely is it that the economy will change in that time frame?
The offices of the prime minister, the health minister and the finance minister have all been seeking guidance on health-care reform.
Here's some guidance from common sense – complete privatization. I know it sounds rather harsh, but hear me out. Our current Soviet-style system will come to an end, so privatization will inevitably occur. I'm afraid that the Feds and the Provs will hand out contracts to the big private insurance companies, crushing the smaller independent guys (the marginal producers, if you will). Even if the marginals aren't squeezed out of the game I imagine special interests will lobby government to meet their interests. And of course those with the money will throw the weight. Let's not have health-care end up like electricity in Ontario.
So here's a simpler solution, one that even fits the ideals of Canadians – let's put all federal health-care expenses into the hands of the provincial governments. The Provs, already overburden with other health-care costs should drop everything into the hands of the municipalities. And don't stop at costs, the Provs should put everything health-care related to the Muni's. Health clinics, hospitals, doctors offices, everything health-care related should be put in the hands of the mayor and council of each respected municipality.
Meanwhile, as the Muni's deal with their new found power, cut taxes at the federal and provincial levels. It's always good to cut taxes, but this time we have a specific reason. All a sudden without the burden of public health-care on their shoulders, the Feds and the Provs will be able to provide the necessary tax cuts that this country needs (Harper, if you really want to be bold completely eliminate the income tax. It might even get you your majority).
With more money in their pockets Canadians can let their municipal governments raise local taxes (or demand HST money) for a smaller health-care base. Hopefully a more decentralized system will cut down on the wastefulness from the large bureaucracies. Perhaps deals could be worked out with the unions or they can be cast off as the social parasites they are.
To each municipality its own.
The municipalities can also sell their new-founded assets off to local private businesses. Perhaps large communities of thousands will form corporations and buy the hospitals and clinics, funding everything through charities. I think Canadians would gladly give money to a charity that offered them 'free' health-care. And with the new tax cuts, they'll have the money to give. This could work out to look like the a similar system we have today (minus the bureaucratic wastefulness).
And then there's always insurance as well. Maybe pay thirty bucks for a sore throat, but insure yourself against any unfortunate misfortune you might encounter and can't afford. As long as you don't let the insurance companies come in between you and your doctor things will work out. Meddling insurance companies led to the break-down of a price structure in the US. A lack of a price structure led to our current mess.
Without market pricing, any talk of costs is irrelevant.
If private hospitals competed against each other like a business; if doctors wanted to offer the best services at the lowest prices then we might be looking at an efficient system. Charities and insurance companies will make sure no one is left out in the cold, and all of it made possible without any government involvement.
After all, if government is just the collective will of the people why bother with the middle-man? Why have government when entrepreneurs are just as capable of taking donated money (i.e. voluntary taxes) and putting them to good use? And if their system turns out to be wasteful or corrupt? Well, it's a private business. Just stop using them and turn to someone else... We don't have that option with our current system. Right now we're left with bureaucratic decisions and mandatory payment without any real involvement in how the business is being run.
A senior government source says the federal cabinet is batting around the idea of a non-partisan cross-country panel or task force that would lay the groundwork for a political debate later on.
Just propaganda noise, that's all. I imagine the Tories will try to make it an election issue, whether their successful remains to be seen. I doubt any one of the major parties will offer any real solutions, they'll just explain the real problems. But at least some Canadians will pay attention to the real problems of our health-care delivery. Unfortunately I imagine a lot will get their news from one of the major news corporations in this country. And who in their right mind gets vital information from a corporation?
I prefer Lew Rockwell.