Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Response to Toronto Star Pro For-Profit Clinic Opinion Piece

December 11, 2012

On December 10, Rick Janson, Campaigns Officer, Ontario Public Service Employees Union, published the following post in response to an opinion piece in the Toronto Star:

Who should you trust? Former PC advisor shills in the Star for private health care

Francesca Grosso says she is an established expert in health care policy. A former PC health care policy director, her day job these days is a principal at Grosso McCarthy, a public affairs company for hire… continued at

http://diablogue.org/2012/12/10/who-should-you-trust-former-pc-advisor-shills-in-the-star-for-private-health-care/#more-2618

Public Interest Duty Should Stop Shouldice Sale

September 26, 2012

Can Ontario’s Minister of Health, Deb Mathews, stop the transfer of the Shouldice Clinic to the health care conglomerate, Centric?  Absolutely, it is within her powers under the Private Hospitals Act: as a friend of mine said, “they wrote better laws 50 years ago.”

The Private Hospitals Act mandates that the Minister stop the transfer of a private hospital where the new owners do not have the “good character and fitness” to manage and operate a private hospital.  The Minister, if she was to do due diligence, something all ministers should do, could also use wording which says that each director and officer of the corporation has to have the character to manage, operate and be associated with a private hospital. The Ministry’s staff would be ideally suited to undertake the research, including delving into the pasts of the directors with international backgrounds.

The easiest and most responsible grounds for the Minister to refuse to transfer Shouldice’s license to Centric is her obligation under the Act to protect the public interest.  The Private Hospitals Act includes in the public interest, “the proper management of the health care system in general and the availability of financial resources for the management of the health care system and for the delivery of health care services.”

This definition is broad enough to base a decision on the evidence that the use of for-profit companies costs more, increases mortality, adds to the complexity of the system and hinders integration: problems compounded by the fact that Centric is linked to an international health conglomerate whose primary corporate strategy is growth through acquisitions and mergers.

There are numerous legal options available to the Minister to stop the transfer of the Shouldice Clinic to Centric: a questionable corporation, dubious directors and/or the public interest. The best would be if she defended the public’s interest in having a strong public health care system, a fact recognized by the liberals in their election commitment to limit for-profit community hospital services.

A copy of the Private Hospitals Act can be found at:

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90p24_e.htm

Public Pay Public Benefits

August 8, 2012

The new graphic beside this post features logos from five corporations delivering essential medical services in Canada. The represent the reality of a broad range of for-profit companies benefiting from public payment for health services:the new focus of this blog.

For the last year I have written on for-profit delivery in Canada’s medical laboratory services. While this interest will continue, example after example illustrate the continuing threat of private laboratory companies to accessibility and sustainability of health care, they are only part of the problem. The companies depicted in the new graphic indicate the breadth of the private threat.

CML Health Care is one the three multinational corporations that take a billion dollars a year from our public health care system for medical laboratory services. CML was founded by a pathologist who made his initial wealth from the expansion of health services after the introduction of medicare.  Through a strategy of mergers and acquisition his company grew to include pharmaceuticals and a wide range of other diagnostic services.  CML currently provides over 20% of the community radiology and ultrasound services in Ontario.

The Cambie Surgical Center is one of Canada’s most infamous health care facilities.  The corporation was founded by an orthopedic surgeon and past president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Brian Day, known for his ongoing clashes with the public health care system.  Dr.  Day’s clinic is being investigated for extra billing in contravention to the Canada Health Act and he is currently involved in court challenges to the validity of universal health care. Cambie brags that it has more operating rooms than most hospitals, six, and provides a range of surgical procedures, including eye, dental, orthopedic and plastic surgeries, to private pay patients and those insured by British Columbia`s universal health insurance.

The three remaining logos are from for-profit primary care chains.   The AIM Health Group: Integrating Health and Wellness runs a broad range of primary health facilities, including 11 family medicine clinics, 35 infusion therapy centers and 14 rehabilitation clinics.  It was a publicly traded company that was purchased in 2011 by Imperial Capital, a Toronto based private equity firm. AIM’s revenues in 2009 were over 54 million dollars. MCI: The Doctors’ Office, the logo that looks like a Swiss flag, in a privately held corporation that runs a chain of 36 family practice clinics in Ontario, Alberta and B.C.  The red apple is the logo of Appletree Medical Group, a healthy primary care chain with 14 locations in Ottawa and 21 around Toronto.

Sadly CML, Cambie, Appletree, MCI and AIM are a small sample of an expanding number of for-profit firms reaping the benefit of public payment. Even though many provincial governments, including Ontario’s call for moving more services out of hospitals into Independent Health Facilities, favour more private clinics their use is relatively unstudied.  I hope that more discussion and research on these for-profit providers will help in a critical evaluation of their impact.  When the public pays the public should benefit.