Has CA’s Gov’t Healthcare Improved Since 1993?

AFTER LISTENING to advisers urging her to adopt a Canadian-style health system for the U.S., Hillary Clinton might learn something from a talk with Ronald Stokoe, of Prince George, British Columbia. Stokoe, 70, is a retired timber inspector who has been sent at Canadian taxpayers’ expense to a Seattle hospital for the radiation therapy he needs to treat prostate cancer.
“Canada let me down,” says Stokoe.
His treatment costs are entirely paid for by the British Columbia health authority, but Stokoe resents the fact that he must undergo the uncomfortable treatments far from his wife and family.
Such stories are heard increasingly these days all along the border, from Seattle to Buffalo. For decades, better-off Canadians frustrated with standing in the long lines their state-run health care system produces have dug into their own pockets and paid for care in the U.S. Now Canada’s provincial health authorities are making U.S. care available to ordinary Canadians.
“We see this as a safety valve,” says Dr. Robert MacMillan, head of health insurance for the Ontario Ministry of Health. “All of Canada faces a lag in accessibility, particularly in highly sophisticated care.”
Since 1991 the British Columbia government’s agency overseeing cancer services has contracted with U.S. hospitals for radiation oncology treatment.  Already about 750 people, some 10% of all British Columbians requiring cancer therapy, have been sent to the U.S.
Out east, in January, Ontario’s provincial health authority contracted with hospitals in Buffalo, Detroit and Duluth to provide magnetic resonance imaging services for Ontario citizens. This month Ontario will also sign contracts with U.S. hospitals for acquired brain injury care, and it is considering contracts covering child and adolescent psychiatric; eating disorder, and drug and alcohol addiction treatment.  Canadians now account for 75% of the patients in the chemical dependency unit at the Falls Memorial Hospital, International Falls, Minn.
“It seems ridiculous that we have to send people to the U.S.,” says Irene Bergman, a senior addictions counselor in Ontario. “But our system is just overwhelmed.” Her patients requiring in-hospital chemical dependency treatment wait three months in Ontario. In Minnesota they wait only three days.  (more here)

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