Jeffrey Simpson: Medicare Is In Trouble. Is Privatization The Answer?
Many people cringe at the use of the "P Words" (private, profit) in regards to health care. However, as a Financial Post article on the issue points out—and Simpson reiterates—many doctors have been private suppliers since Medicare first began. In fact, he explains that the vast number of single practitioners in Canada negotiate deals with the state on a fee-per-service basis all the time. The problem, however, is that a group of practitioners operating in the same manner causes controversy. As soon as we hear the words "profit" or "privatization," most people worry that it's a slippery slope towards the adoption of two-tiered American-style health care. However, as the Post points out: "Jeffrey Simpson and many other would-be reformers are not saying the demand-side should be privatized, too. In their model, the state still pays for people’s health care. Poor people’s demands are backed up by tax dollars." In essence, the state would look for the provider who can deliver them the best price-quality ratio services, and then they would monitor the adminstration of those services.
"My view," Simpson adds, "is that if a group of private practitioners can deliver services with the same quality, at the lower cost, and better access, this is better for patients." He proposes a solution where the government contracts private providers to build, maintain, and run the facilities we will need to improve our system, with the state providing the money to pay for them and the oversight to regulate them. Increasing competition between private providers could be a viable solution, Simpson says, to deal with demand problems without raising taxes to pay for them. In his books and his talks, Simpson delves into big ideas on how to improve the nation's health care system. Winner of the Governor General's Award, Simpson is a trusted voice on domestic and international issues and has been a columnist at the Globe and Mail for over 20 years. He proposes sweeping—but achievable—reforms that will bring our spending in line with our results to make our health care as top-notch as it has the potential to be.