Throne speech raises questions about government commitment to health conversation

The B.C. government confirmed in Tuesdays throne speech that a controversial blueprint for health care is in the works in spite of its ongoing -Conversation on Health" consultation with British Columbians. The third of 16 Conversation on Health public forums takes place this weekend in Kelowna.

The throne speech promised -fundamental health reforms that increase individual choice and maximize the supply of health services within the budgets available."

BC Health Coalition co-chair Alice Edge says this confirms broad hints from government that it favours a U.K.-style health funding model ... a design that forces hospitals to compete with each other, and with for-profit medical clinics and US-owned hospital chains ... for surgical procedures paid by public health insurance. Hospitals that succeed under this corporate marketing model are then rewarded with funding while others see their budgets slashed.

-This funding scheme has been blamed for dislocation and financial ruin in major parts of the health care system in the United Kingdom," says Edge.

-British Columbians should be concerned about the impact of U.K.-style hospital competition on the future of acute care services in their communities. The impact would be especially severe on facilities in smaller communities where government cuts in recent years have been particularly harsh."
And the Coalitions co-chair Joyce Jones says that the provincial government should be more upfront about its plans, especially since British Columbians were promised a comprehensive public discussion on health care when the Conversation on Health was launched.

-The public wants to talk about positive, public solutions that will make health care stronger in all our communities," says Jones. -But, the throne speech appears to be foreshadowing a Medicare marketplace where profit-seekers and corporations will reap rewards and B.C. taxpayers and individuals will pay the price."

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