Opposite view

Dear Mr. Editor:
I would like to provide the opposite view to Dr. Algie’s press release in last Wednesday’s Times. In retrospect, I viewed his article as a public relations gesture meant to encourage a movement towards a new Family Health Team concept for medical care in Fort Frances.
I would like to caution the public to be aware of any media campaign asking you to support the notion of rostering and capitation. There is a dark side, which I will attempt to simplify in this article, but before I comment on them, I have a few comments regarding portions of Dr. Algie’s press release.
I was pleased to note the Sault Ste. Marie-based Group Health Association is backing out of its commitments on the Fort Frances Clinic. I ask Dr. Algie or Coun. Todd Hamilton to update the public on the events leading to or causing this change in position.
I also would like to ask these gentlemen to provide the public with the done deal, backdoor agreements, documents, and confidential manoeuvring being withheld from the public.
If taxpayers are advancing $1 million, forfeiting interest on this money, at a time when taxes are to be significantly increased, then we have a right to know what’s going on—and a right to participate in any decision being made that affects our health care.
We were promised all this information and we expect nothing less. All the documents are hidden, yet we get press releases telling us why we shouldn’t complain, telling us why it’s good for us, and why we should accept it.
Doesn’t anyone on council get it. We do not require fancy words or editorials telling us in a polite way to shut up and go away. We want what we were promised—input, information, and to be heard prior to any decision being made.
I suspect Group Health Association, having changed their minds, will force Fort Frances town council to rescind, or amend, its resolution to proceed on the old Fort Frances Clinic purchase. I’ll bet the amendments will be pushed through without advance public notice or input.
The Canadian Family Physician carried an editorial by Dr. Pamela K. Mulligan, entitled “Capitation: the wrong direction for primary care reform.” I encourage everyone to view this article. It speaks clearly to what is wrong with replacing the fee-for-service with capitation and to provide care to rostered populations through networks of health-care providers.
The bottom line? Rostering (capitation) for health care reform is fraught with strategic challenges and paves the way for privatization. Each patient will roster (sign a contract) with a physician and agree to obtain services only from the network to which the physician belongs.
Second, capitation-funded systems in Ontario will not be protected from the for-profit sector, even though the position in Fort Frances recommends a not-for-profit entity. It won’t be too long before we have lost the fundamental protection (afforded to and paid for with our tax dollars) of our Canadian health care system.
This would “Americanize” our health care system and move us closer to privatization—a two-tier health care system jeopardizing the universality of care guaranteed to all citizens.
If you can’t pay out of pocket, or purchase separate insurance policies for coverage, you may find yourself in a similar position to 37 million Americans who have no health care at all.
Where are those politicians who are suppose to protect us? Howard Hampton? Ken Boshcoff? Where are you? Why are you so silent?
In closing, I believe Dr. Algie honestly expressed his point of view and I agree his views and comments are important for all to hear. What I disagree with are the views of all us other taxpayers who are being ignored and treated like mushrooms. We have a right to speak and have a say on this issue.
We have a right to review all the material available, including any agreement reached (presently hidden), so we (the public) can make an informed decision rather than four or five people dictating it to us.
If anyone would like to read the document by Dr. K. Mulligan, please contact me and I’ll make a copy available to you.
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if any action is taken by town council on the resolution to purchase the clinic.
Your truly,
Allan T. Bedard
Fort Frances, Ont.

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