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Medicare Needs Your Help

 

Attention Canadian medical students,

 

At the 2006 Annual General Meeting of the CMA, delegates voted on several resolutions that are critical to the future of Canada’s publicly funded health care system.

 

Though the General Council supported a number of measures to strengthen public health care, they defeated a resolution which would have reaffirmed the right of Canadians to health care access based on need and not ability to pay. The General Council also elected Dr. Brian Day as President-Elect of the CMA, a known proponent of private financing of health care.

 

Doubtlessly these conflicting actions have arisen out of physician frustration with a system in need of innovation and reorganization. It is no secret that wait times for primary care and procedures are unacceptably long, and physicians bear constant witness to sub-optimal care for their patients as a result. However, it is now conceivable that policy-makers could state that the will of physicians is to abandon Medicare as they begin to roll out plans to dismantle it.

 

We cannot allow this to happen.

 

In fact, an overwhelming volume of evidence from Canada as well as countries around the world confirms that a private parallel system of health insurance actually lengthens wait times for all but the wealthiest citizens, and creates different standards of care based on socioeconomic status. The most extreme example is the United States where tens of millions do not have access to health insurance and the primary cause of personal bankruptcy is failure to pay medical bills. Meanwhile the US government spends 15% of its GNP on health care – compared to Canada’s 10% - due to the massive administrative costs of a multiple-payer system. This same volume of evidence, which includes the Romanow and Kirby Reports, outlines positive steps for change within the publicly funded system to improve wait times and enhance sustainability.

 

The time to act to save Medicare is now. As future medical professionals we have a responsibility to critically consult the available evidence and advocate for our patients. A new physician, resident and medical student group called Canadian Doctors for Medicare is doing just that, and with a membership of 1000 and growing it has already reached the forefront of the movement to protect and strengthen Canada’s most cherished and renowned social program.

 

Canadian Doctors for Medicare recognizes that medical students are central to the debate. In fact a student-initiated petition opposing private health care financing for physician and hospital services was signed by a staggering 1,134 students from all 17 medical schools and has already made national headlines.

 

Join Canadian Doctors for Medicare today. Growing membership will counter any public perception that doctors have abandoned patients by abandoning Medicare, and at the same time will send a message to the CMA from within that physicians demand efficiency, quality and equity in the Canadian health care system.

 

Evidence, information, contacts, and a community of advocates can be found at http://www.canadiandoctorsformedicare.ca.

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