North America debates health care

TheStar.com – Opinion/Letters – North America debates health care
August 22, 2009


Re: Harper and Ignatieff flub their medicare moment, Opinion Aug. 18

I agree with Arthur Milnes’ assertion that both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff should be actively seeking opportunities to defend our health care system in front of U.S. audiences to counteract the outright lies being told about it south of the border.

What surprises me is Milnes’ puzzlement at why Harper hasn’t done so. It’s quite obvious when you look at the Harper record. His entire career, from heading the right wing, anti-tax National Citizens Coalition to his many years in government, reveal him to be unaware that there is any such thing as the public good. He is a privatizer and commodifier supreme who has use for the public sector only as a vehicle for increasing the gap between rich and poor through tax cuts that largely benefit the wealthy while weakening government’s ability to finance social programs that are essential to the great majority.

It’s no surprise to me that someone with Harper’s history and priorities would studiously avoid any chance to defend medicare, either here or abroad.

Terry O’Connor, Toronto

Why I’d rather be sick here than in U.S., Opinion Aug. 20

The right-wing agenda is alive and well in the United States. After a brief setback in the fall last year, where their excess and greed were exposed, putting the world economies on the brink of collapse, they are now up and running after receiving billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.

They are now training their big propaganda guns on President Barack Obama’s health-care reform by using scare tactics, disrupting town hall meetings and spreading misinformation in order to maintain the “status quo” – a system that benefits the rich and the insurance companies, has more than 47 million Americans without health- care insurance and still costs more than $2 trillion a year.

Obama’s plan calls for a cut in rising costs, doing away with the harmful and discriminatory practice of denying coverage for “pre-existing” conditions, helping seniors by lowering drug costs and, above all, fair and affordable insurance coverage for all Americans.

Our health system, with its drawbacks, is still the envy of the world. As your columnist Bob Hepburn rightly remarked, he would rather be sick here than in the U.S.

Max Desouza, Toronto

Competition can help heal health care, doctors say, Aug. 19

Nurses are disappointed that the CMA has chosen to continue pushing its privatization schemes, despite solid evidence that they are dangerous for the public. Schemes that promote health-care competition run the risk of pitting doctors against each other in a bid to lure healthier patients.

The marketplace has no business in the delivery of health care and patients should not be regarded as commodities. Access to medicare is a human right, not a privilege for those who can afford it.
It is sad the CMA is ignoring 86 per cent of Canadians recently polled who support not-for-profit solutions to strengthen the country’s public health-care system.

The CMA’s new president, Dr. Anne Doig, should also listen carefully to those whom she represents. In a 2005 survey, only 27 per cent of physicians said they favoured a purely private health-care system.
Doris Grinspun, RN, executive director, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, Toronto

Reading about the Canadian Medical Association’s resolution to ask government and health authorities to examine market competition to include a role for the private sector in our publicly funded health-care system reminded me of a university professor I once knew. When a couple of students approached him with their research proposal as part of their course of study, he perceptively and tersely responded by saying that they were coming to their project with “unclean hands” as there was clear evidence of a conflict of interest for them.

Is this CMA resolution another example of the fox volunteering to guard the henhouse?

William E. Brown, Toronto

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