Issue challenges Canadian health care system

As a health care provider I have just been made aware this week of a very important issue, by health care colleagues in Vancouver,

To the Editor:

As a health care provider I have just been made aware this week of a very important issue, by health care colleagues in Vancouver, about a  pending legal challenge, that could have a major impact on the way we access health care.

While the case is not in the public focus, at least at present, it involves  a Vancouver  physician who is challenging, at the B.C. supreme court level, that the defining principle of Canadian medicare is unconstitutional. That defining principle, very simply, is that health  care services be provided according to patients’ needs and not their ability to pay.

How someone can reason that this basic principle of medicare is unconstitutional is beyond my comprehension of how the legal system works.

Nevertheless, Dr Brian Day, a Vancouver surgeon and a for profit clinic owner in Vancouver is seeking to persuade the Supreme Court that this is indeed  the case. If his challenge is successful then the rules that prevent a U.S. style system in our country would likely unravel and we would be in for a sea change in the way we access health care. While the case is being heard in B.C. and if Dr. Day is successful, there would be ramifications right across the country.

An organization called Canadian Doctors for Medicare has been given intervener status in this important case and is working hard to have this challenge defeated. In an email to many in the medical community this organization reported on audits of Dr. Day’s Cambie Street medical clinic which revealed evidence of extra billing, to a great extent, and overlapping claims, i.e., double dipping for the same service.

This case is to be heard on Sept. 8 this year. I think all we can do as private citizens is get the conversation going in our community as to whether or not we want a U.S.style health care system which can put patients in incredible debt, which does not provide coverage for about  12 per cent  of its population and there really  is no evidence that it results in better care for patients.

Let us hope that our courts make the right decision.

Gerald Partridge MD, Keremeos