The Medical Post
Dr Brian Day's Letter to the editor
January 26, 2000 - Published in Volume 36 Issue 04
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Why believe gov't can deliver health-care properly?
Your editorial once again surpasses your own high standard of crooked thinking. As one of the editors of a peer reviewed orthopedic journal, it grieves me to see you fall into the trap of mixing opinion with fact. Your belief studies have shown the effectiveness and efficiency of publicly administered health-care systems is based on non-science - a fact borne out by even a superficial analysis of the research upon which the statements are based. In an interview I gave on CBC's As it Happens, a rebuttal was given by Michael Rachlis, one of the so-called experts that spurt the type of rhetoric that you are prone to repeat. I had remarked that we, as a private surgical facility, offered to carry out contract surgical services for the province of British Columbia at 60% of the cost of procedures performed in public facilities and that they declined the offer on the basis it was not in the public policy interest. Rachlis criticized my comments based on the fact that no studies had shown we could do it at 60% of the cost. Does he refuse to buy discounted gasoline on the basis that there are no studies proving it is cheaper?
I fail to understand why you have such a profound belief in the ability of governments to operate such a complex entity as health-care delivery. A dollar worth 67 cents, a debt of $476 billion, and high unemployment highlight some of their achievements.
In B.C., we have experienced unequalled fiscal incompetence in every area government has involved itself in, with many hundreds of millions spent in futile bailouts of unproductive factories and the building of "fast" ferries that not only don't go fast, but often don't go at all. In health, our government boasts a Web Site advertising outrageous waiting lists, and justifies three-month wait lists for cancer treatment on the basis it allows them to "prioritize patients." What is it about health care that makes some believe governments can do better than they do in other areas?
Based on your faith in their wonderful expertise, and your desire for equality, why not go the whole hog on the three major areas on which a nation's true health status is based? I refer to poverty, nutrition and housing. Let the state take over and expand their current monopoly in health-care delivery to all three areas. They could legislate equality in wealth. Let us all eat the same food in the same government operated food halls. Let us all live in state funded, non-profit, and identical low cost housing. This is called Marxism. Would you like to try it?
Fundamental questions must be asked. In a free society, is it really acceptable that we may spend money on gambling, tobacco, alcohol or pornography, but not on our health? Do we elect governments so that they can deny us that privilege? If your loved ones were waiting for needed health care, how would you respond?
I found your editorial irritating and predictable. Your views are oppressive to those who believe in freedom of choice and offensive to those who seek a rational debate on the issues.
- Dr. Brian Day, Vancouver, B.C.