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Sunday, 20-Apr-2014 19:54 Email | Share | Bookmark
Ontario Needs Better Value For Money In Health Care | Toronto St

official statement

Since 1982, spending on hospitals in Ontario has increased by 53 per cent in real terms, but spending on physicians has increased by 116 per cent and on drugs by a staggering 312 per cent. These trends require public policy courage and creative solutions to break new ground. There is a lot more the government could do to make its system work smarter. For starters, Ontario needs to develop a more effective and comprehensive system of paying for health care. The current pay-as-you-go structure imposes most of the fiscal burden on those currently working and fails to send any price signals to users. Diversification of the revenue base is needed to finance our system. Setting aside funds today to cover health-care costs in our senior years, just like we do for retirement, could ensure a more stable financing model and improve intergenerational fairness. Introducing income-tested co-payments for certain services may also mitigate cost issues. Implementing an Ontario-made pharmacare program would help tackle a rapidly growing health-care cost driver. Interestingly, countries that have greater public provision of drugs also have lower total per capita drug spending than Ontario. Incorporating pharmaceuticals into the public package would allow the province to achieve greater economies of scale and greater bargaining power in obtaining lower drug costs.

NJ needs a Department of Health that puts patients first: Opinion |

Nevertheless, the DOH has failed to update obsolete nurse staffing standards since 1987, freeing hospitals to set staffing levels to meet budgetary rather than patient care demands. At the same time, the DOH under Gov. Chris Christie has privatized hospital license renewal inspections, replacing comprehensive inspections by DOH professional staff with proprietary certifications by private companies and hospital self-reporting of regulatory compliance. Hospital cuts in vital services such as maternity or mental health further highlight the failure of the DOH to assure that hospital financial resources are allocated in a way that prioritizes access to care for our communities over profits. For example, DOH recently allowed Memorial Hospital of Salem County (MHSC) owned by the nations largest for-profit hospital chain, Community Health Systems (CHS) to close its maternity servic e, abandoning a largely rural and low-income community that lacks public transportation and easy access to other hospitals. Although CHS had net operating revenues of nearly $13 billion in 2013, regulators and the public have little information about the finances of MHSC, and the DOH failed to conduct an on-site review of the potential impact of the maternity service closure. The actions of some for-profit companies running our hospitals shine an unflattering light not only on the hospitals owners, but on the DOHs minimal oversight and lax enforcement of safeguards meant to protect the quality and accessibility of health care for our communities. During the Christie administration, the DOH has given the green light to investors with troubling track records to purchase our community hospitals, and then failed to enforce even the minimal standards needed to guarantee the community continued access to quality health care services. The DOH repeatedly rebuffs calls for a monitor at hospitals with recurring violations, leaving nurses and health professionals as whistleblowers with no one listening. NJ needs a Department of Health that puts patients first: Opinion |

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