Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Newfoundland Premier Opts for US Health Care

Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams will spurn the Canadian health care system for that of the United States when he comes to the US for heart surgery this week. At a press conference today attended by the National Post, Deputy premier Kathy Dunderdale, said,
"He has gone to a renowned expert in the procedure that he needs to have done... In consultation with his own doctors, he's decided to go that route... It was never an option offered to him to have this procedure done in this province."
She declined to answer if the procedure was available in the province or all of Canada. However, The Telegram writes, "... the particular procedure isn’t available in the province...", but doesn't say whether the procedure is available in other provinces.

Brett Skinner, president of the Vancouver-based free-market think-tank, Fraser Institute, explained in the Calgary Herald,
"It’s not like we lack the medical knowledge and technology and science to provide these things — we just don’t have a system that allows our providers to meet market demands. Our ban on private finance and our ban on competitive for-profit delivery of publicly funded goods and services is a huge barrier to doing those things, to providing for the needs of Canadian patients."
Premier Williams has already been in consultations with his own physician and specialist for several weeks and they recommended immediate surgery in the US, not because Canadian doctors can't perform the surgery, but because Mr. Williams cannot wait the time required for service in Canada and if he was to have the heart surgery in Canada, and given his position, he would be accused of line jumping because of his office. Because 41,000 Canadians come to the US every year for medical treatment, his choice might not raise too much Canadian ire. Judging from the comments to the story in the press I quoted, Williams has plenty of supporters for his choice.

Mr. Williams, however, may see it as a choice between life and death given the median wait times in prominent Canadian hospitals. Though the wait times vary province to province and hospital to hospital, they are considerably longer than in any US state or hospital. For example, British Columbia cardiac surgery median wait times for three months ending Nov 30, 2009 was 3.1 wks (22 days.) At the four major B.C. hospitals providing cardiac care, according to B.C. Ministry of Health Services, the wait times in 2009 were:
Royal Columbian Hospital - 1.6 wks
Royal Jubilee Hospital - 3.4 wks
St. Paul's Hospital - 4.9 wks
Vancouver Hospital - 4.9 wks

For Newfoundland and Labrador the wait times are within the benchmark times set by the national health service in 2005. For cardiac bypass surgery the wait is 2-26 wks (14-182 days) depending upon patient criticality. Newfoundland and Labrador Health and Community Services reported on June 15, 2009 that the services are meeting the wait time benchmarks as defined:

Wait time starts with the decision to treat, which is when the patient and the appropriate physician agree to a particular service, and the patient is ready to receive the service. Wait time stops when the patient receives the service, or the initial service in a series. The wait is then measured in calendar days between start and stop.
The report also says,
The national target for coronary bypass surgery is 182 days. The proportion of cases completed within this timeframe has consistently remained above the 90th percentile for more than two years, dating back to 2006-07. The percentage of cases completed within the benchmark ranged from 93.9 per cent to 100 per cent.
182 days and 93.9-100% is not good enough. Now that's the median wait time meaning there are an equal number of patients who wait longer and shorter periods, not an average. If I had to wait that long for heart surgery in the US, or any needed surgery, I would seriously consider running the Cuban blockade. Waiting almost five months for medical care in unconscionable and unacceptable. Yet, that is precisely what will happen under Obamacare as well as a whole passel of other very, very ugly stuff.

Get well soon, Mr. Williams and enjoy your stay in the US. I hear the food has much improved since I was last hospitalized.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Mike's America said...

This news couldn't come at a better time!

I wonder where the Canuck would have had to go if Obama Care passed?

Louise said...

We have another prominent politician who just announced today that he has prostate cancer and will be taking time off for treatment. I wonder if any of our darling MSM peeps will follow up to see where he goes for treatment or find out whether he jumped the queue. They were all over the Danny Williams story, and rightfully so, but Danny Williams is a member of the right leaning Conservative Party, so he's naturally not shielded from criticism.

The guy who made the announcement today is a rabid socialists who leads a party that has never been in power, at least in the Federal government and God willing, never will, so when the media said he was going to make an announcement I was hoping he was going to announce his retirement, but no such luck. I had some nasty thoughts for a few minutes, but ultimately I have to wish him a speedy and full recovery. See. I can be nice sometimes.

Ironically, the guy with cancer heads the federal New Democratic Party. It was the provincial New Democrats who first introduced Medicare way back in 1960 right here in the province where I live, so it would be a major scandal if he did queue jump or skip the country.

Indigo Red said...

I do hope he stays with the national health service and waits his turn in queue. Maybe he'll learn something about the little people.