The Conference Board of Canada, a corporate front group already known for plagiarizing American propaganda reports, is now promoting its newly established health care think tank, the Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care, in the Toronto Star. (The fact that the Star, unabashedly the most leftist of the major papers, is promoting a private healthcare think tank should be all the indication you need that the mainstream media in this country is not actually leftist at all.)
The lead author of the op-ed is Anne Golden, who was also in charge in 2009 during the plagiarism fiasco. Golden says that Canadians must learn to accept that healthcare is not “an essential public service.” She says we need to rethink healthcare from the perspective of “empowerment” rather than “entitlement.” As even a quick intelligent skimming of the article will reveal, this is meaningless sophistry, simply intended to stoke up conservative contempt of “entitlement” and appeal to the modern mantra of freedom of choice. She neglects to mention that CASH — note the acronym — has a list of “investors” (not donors) dominated by insurance companies, banks, and other major companies, along with the pro-privatization Ontario government.
Let’s look a little more carefully at Golden’s nonsense about “empowerment.” She says it’s time Canadians realized they aren’t “entitled” to healthcare as a right, but that they are “consumers” only. So the goal of healthcare reform is to “empower” us as consumers.
Obviously that can only lead in one direction. Right now healthcare actually is a right, contrary to what Golden says. It’s in the Canada Health Act. It’s extended to all Canadians. It’s the law. And what’s the alternative? If we’re not entitled to healthcare as a right, then that means we must have to acquire it in some other way — i.e., by paying. Golden should be honest about what she’s proposing.
The root of Golden’s argument is, yet again, the claim that universal healthcare can’t continue because it’s unaffordable. As usual, this is a nefarious myth. It’s true that healthcare costs are rising 6% per year, which is unsustainable. But then again, they’re also rising 6% per year in the United States, which already has private healthcare. And the American system already costs twice as much per ours per person.
So, yes, reform is needed. But the idea that ending universal healthcare will solve the problem is only true insofar as a private system has one incentive the public system doesn’t have: “costs” will fall because some people will be forced to go without necessary treatment altogether. Every single economist and corporate propagandist promoting more privatized healthcare knows full well that in a healthcare free market, those with more money will buy more healthcare and those with less money will try to survive with less. That’s the basis of a free market, and it’s the reason that costs will fall (if they do — the American system suggests they’ll actually go up). It’s telling that none of these anti-Canadian corporate puppets ever admit that they want to “save” money by denying medical treatment to poor people.
Want to know how to control healthcare costs? It’s easy. Convince the Americans to nationalize their healthcare system, so we can work in a lower-cost environment like the Europeans do (which is why their costs are consistently much lower than ours). Failing that, centralize drug purchases and bring them properly into the healthcare system. Slash the patent laws back down to size and impose price caps on generic production. If the generic companies threaten to pull out of Canada as a result, create a Crown corporation, buy their plants, and produce them in the public sector. Train more doctors, and offer them a tuition-free education in exchange for working for ten years in Canada following their graduation. Invest in more preventative medicine. Fund public research into cancer treatments so that resulting new drugs can be purchased at cost rather than lining the pockets of rich drug-makers. Or just nationalize the drug-makers outright, which would accomplish the same thing. Oh, and ban cigarettes.
Some of those are more radical solutions than others, obviously. But any of them would help with healthcare costs. And I’ll bet not a one of them will ever be proposed by an organization named CASH.
Incidentally, the notion that healthcare is not an essential service will be especially disappointing to the government of British Columbia, which has for years outlawed union activity in the healthcare sector on the grounds that it is in fact an essential service.Tweet