Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Medicare Mystery in the Debate

This is from the CBC.
While it is nice to know that Harper goes only to publicly owned facilities the privately owned hospital that Layton went to is part of the public medicare system. Doctors often operate out of private clinics as I understand often owning them. When I am referred to a specialist I have no choice but to go to a private clinic since that is where the specialist practices from. The doctor is operating under the public system still. However, there can be some minor extra fees for services not paid for by the public system. For example when an examination is done in the clinic a tray fee is often paid for materials for which the doctor would not otherwise be reimbursed. If you really are a purist I suppose you could demand the service be done in a hospital to avoid this fee! I'm a pragmatic purist. I pay the fee to avoid the hassle and inconvenience of doing otherwise!
Layton is right that in his former work Harper was also pressing for a more privatised health care system.

Medicare mysteryPosted in Reality Check Posted on October 3, 2008 08:55 AM
By John Gray
As Stephen Harper told it, he is the lonely champion of Canada's public health-care system.
As he said it, he seemed to stick out his chest and look down his nose at the others around the table during the televised leaders' debate. The Conservative leader wagged his finger and announced that he uses the public health-care system, he uses his health card, and that he may even be alone among political leaders in doing so.
"I use the public health-care system, my family uses the public health-care system," Harper said. "And it turns out I was the only national leader that had exclusively used the health-care system."
There was a slightly puzzled murmur around the table as St├ęphane Dion, Elizabeth May, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe all protested that, well, they, too, use the public system and they, too, use their health cards.
That was the point at which moderator Steve Paikin interrupted to offer an explanation for Harper's slightly puzzling statement. What prompted Harper's statement, he suggested, was that it was revealed last year that the NDP's Layton had visited a private clinic for treatment.
In fact, Layton had been treated for a hernia at the Shouldice hospital north of Toronto, one of the few privately-owned facilities that operate under medicare. Although it is privately owned, it is publicly financed and patients are treated without extra charge.
Anatomy of a cheap shot
At that point, Layton snapped at Harper that he was guilty of a cheap shot. Harper, no longer quite as spotless a knight as he was intending to be, protested that Layton had earlier been guilty of a cheap shot when he accused Harper of trying to destroy medicare.
The NDP leader was referring to Harper's five years as vice president, then president of the National Citizens' Coalition, the right-wing lobby group that, among other causes, is devoted to the promotion of a private health-care system.
Although Layton was harsh on the prime minister, Elizabeth May was even harsher. She acknowledged that cuts in the system had been made by the Liberals, but she charged that Harper had been a propagandist against medicare.
“We have to recognize the Liberal cuts in the 90s hurt our health care system. Yes, we’re seeing further pressure in the health care system and, yes, Mr. Harper, your job from 97 until you went back into politics was to destroy the health-care system. You gave speeches in which you told Americans we were a failed European welfare state and it was a failure in the health-care system You said that many times.”
Harper, who had at first appeared quite pleased with himself in his role as the white knight of public health care, resumed the weary expression of the misunderstood leader who is attacked by everyone else.

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