Campus Crossfire: Bill 11

By Brian Low

Thump. Thump.
Hear that? It’s the sound of Ralphie’s truth squads marching your way.

This week, at the cost of $300,000, a propaganda machine better oiled than Paul Joseph Goebbels’ sent copies of Bill 11 to your mailbox.

This bill will allow regional health authorities to contract out services to private providers. Why? Well, dear Ralph will try to tell you that this will be more Efficient, save money, shorten waiting lists, save money, stop the brain drain, and did I forget to mention money?

And from living in Alberta, we should, by now, have it beaten into us that money is good. But is private for-profit health care really more Efficient and cost effective?

While the New Democrats chant their mantra of “two tier, two tier,” no one is pointing out that the New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that no peer-reviewed study has found that for-profit hospitals are less expensive than non-profit ones. In fact, publicly-funded health care costs less.

For one thing, for-profit health care wastes time and money on investor relations. Public health care doesn’t have to worry about making someone 15 per cent annually or giving employees stock options. Not to mention all the time and money wasted on marketing. Private clinics will compete for your business, spending thousands on advertising. All that time and money would be better spent on patients, doctors, nurses, and facilities.

But I could be wrong. Maybe there’s something Ralph knows that I don’t, and private clinics are more efficient than public health care. Maybe spending money on a giant billboard rather than a hospital bed means shorter waiting lists.

So why not allow inefficient private clinics? What’s it to me? They’ll just lose their own money, right? And if they’re really inefficient, the Darwinian laws of business will mean they’ll eventually close.

The problem with allowing private clinics is that their inefficiency will cause more stress on the publicly-funded health care. That means longer waiting lists not just for them, but across the board. Health care will be more expensive for everyone supplying it.

But we’re told there’s a crisis. They say public health care isn’t working. Wait, let me see if I have this right–they blow up a hospital and then tell us there’s a crisis? These are the same people who have a vested interest in whether private health care is allowed. Senior medical staff at the Calgary Regional Health Authority are investors in various clinics which have contracts with the crha. Of course they’re going to tell us there’s a crisis!

Just take a minute and think of everything you want from a health care system. Efficiency? Of course, we all want short waiting lists that don’t cost us much. Accessibility? Fairness? Equality? Now think of which system is going to best provide this.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure that out.

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