Two weeks before Christmas and just as Queen's Park Legislature stops all business until February 2017, Ontario's minister of health lobbed an explosive proposal at doctors in the province. Though Ontario's physicians have been working without a contract since March 2014, the government's latest PR stunt was met with widespread fury.
Ontario needs genuine health-system reform. Instead we get the Patients First Act. Doctors are hopping mad. So we are turning our backs on those who willfully ignore our warnings and our advice. They will now stand alone as their committees waste more time and taxpayer money on a sketchy health-care "transformation."
Whether it's a result of increased need, improved awareness or maybe both, millennials are asking for help in the form of access to mental health services that are often fragmented province to province and particularly difficult to access. Millennials are also most likely to be underinsured or have no insurance at all.
Today's disjointed pharmaceutical policy may be described as a Shakespearean tragedy -- a flawed system that will always end with demise. The relationship between health care policies, the funding of prescription drugs and public access to medically necessary medication is fragmented. It is in need of political leadership.
Transformational approach, holistic approach, social enterprise -- today it's become trendy to throw around buzzwords about social change. Fortunately, the buzzwords have a concrete meaning thanks to innovators in the not-for-profit world who implemented the approaches in the first place -- long before the jargon existed. These are the original change agents.
Many voting against the PSA argue that a fixed budget prevents physicians from providing necessary care to patients. No one is suggesting this. Patients who need care will be seen, necessary tests and surgeries will be done, family and specialist clinics will still see patients and physicians will continue to get paid to provide these services.
The OMA ramped up their aggressive endorsement: ads appeared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Calls for a balanced discussion were met with threats from the OMA: "it's either the PSA or more cuts." Rules govern how such votes occur. The OMA's methods rigged the votes towards a "yes," seemingly breaching them all.
Dread and despair, uncertainty and panic ebb and flow around thoughts of my medical career. Most days clamour with stories of clinics closing, physicians leaving and patients dying on waitlists -- all flatly ignored by provincial leaders. Some days, I even want to quit. After only sx years of independent practice, I'm burning out.
In case you think I'm asking you for more money for health care, I'm not. The $51 billion currently budgeted is enough, it just needs to be spent more efficiently. There will be significant immediate cost savings from cutting the bureaucratic bloats. But will this be enough to get you the election win you so badly desire in 2018?
The health care problems we face are not the result of insufficient spending. In fact, more money may be counterproductive. The primary focus of any new accord needs to be on the structure of the federal-provincial arrangements. The most commonly visualized instrument seems to be a return to something like the Health Accords of 2003 and 2004.
Biologic medicines constitute one of Canada's fastest-growing segments in pharmaceutical spending. For the year ending August 2014, biologics sales accounted for $5.6 billion or 24 per cent of the entire Canadian market for pharmaceuticals, and included four of the top five best-selling drugs in Canada.
It's no surprise that governments are focusing more attention on how to better support musculoskeletal (MSK) patients, considering that back pain is now the leading single cause of disability worldwide. Ontario chiropractors are playing a crucial role in the development of new models of care to help our province face these challenges.
A health care system can remain public and universal all while allowing entrepreneurs to compete to provide services and attract clients, instead of leaving patients trapped in a public monopoly that fails to respond adequately to the demand for treatment. But first, we have to get over our fears concerning the role of the private sector in health care.