By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, August 20, 2009 4:20 PM PT
Medical Care: A leaked report shows that Vancouver's health authority is considering cutting thousands of surgeries to balance the budget. However organized, government-run health care inevitably leads to rationing.
IBD Exclusive Series: Government-Run Healthcare: A Prescription For Failure
Defenders of ObamaCare continually point out that their plan is not like Canada's, that holding that country's system up as an example of impending medical doom is invalid. Canada's system is different. Instead of having a single national plan, Canada's national health insurance, a kind of public option, is composed of 13 interlocking provincial and territorial plans, all framed under the Canada Health Act.
But based on a report leaked to the Vancouver Sun, this is a distinction without a difference. Even if you break it up into smaller pieces, it's still state-run medical insurance with decisions on who gets care, based on cost and funding, not need. That is called rationing.
According to the leaked document, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority is looking to close nearly a quarter of its operating rooms starting next month and to cut 6,250 surgeries. They include 24% of cases scheduled from September to March and 10% of all medically necessary elective procedures this fiscal year.
The plan proposes cutbacks to neurosurgery, ophthalmology, vascular surgery and 11 other specialized areas. Brian Brodie, a Canadian doctor and president of the British Columbia Medical Association, has called the proposed surgical cuts a "nightmare."
"Why would you begin your cost-cutting measures on medically necessary surgery?" he asks. "I can't think of a worse place."
Dr. Anne Doig, the new president of the Canadian Medical Association, says it's clear Canadians are getting less than optimal care. "We all agree that the system is imploding. We all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize," she told the Canadian Press.
As we have noted, roughly 900,000 patients of all ages are waiting for beds in Canada, according to the Fraser Institute. More than four times as many MRI units per capita are in the U.S. as in Canada, and we have twice as many CT scanners.
Canada's perfectly planned and cost-effective system had no room at the inn for Ava Isabella Stinson, born in Hamilton, Ontario. Of necessity she had to be sent across the border to a Buffalo, N.Y., hospital to receive critically needed neonatal care. She had no time to be put on a Canadian waiting list.
At the American hospital, Stinson got the care she needed under a system President Obama has labeled "unsustainable."
A similar situation exists in Britain under the National Health Service. There, local health care "trusts" supervise medical delivery. Under the NHS system, about 1,000 victims of rare forms of cancer were denied drug treatment the past three years, according to an analysis by the Rare Cancers Forum printed in the London Telegraph.
Stella Pendleton, executive director of the charity, said: "The NHS is forcing desperate patients into the cruel situation where the chances of their being given the treatment they need depend on where they live. No patient should be denied a treatment recommended by a doctor simply because the cancer it treats is too rare for the medicine to be licensed."
Yet this is what inevitably happens under all forms of socialized medicine. This is why Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Parliament from Britain, has called the NHS a "60-year mistake" and encouraged Americans to "ponder our example and tremble."
When asked about ObamaCare on Fox News, Hannan said: "I find it incredible that a free people living in a country dedicated and founded in the cause of independence and freedom can seriously be thinking about adopting such a system."
So do we.
Some still say that what has happened in Britain and Canada can't happen here, that ObamaCare is too different.
Frankly, we'd like a second opinion.