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Ontario Medical Association's advocacy of privatization betrays Ontario
June 12, 1995
The Ontario Medical Association, in a report endorsed by the OMA Council, has introduced another threat to universal health care. Those who can pay will receive better care. The OMA would open the door to private insurance for publicly insured services, and would introduce user fees.
The OMA policies would end the health care system as we have known it. This OMA policy stands in explicit contradiction to the Canada Health Act, the federal legislation that enshrines the principle of universal health care. Instead, it represents a dramatic suggestion that we "Americanize" our system. The results of this move would be a health care system in which financial burdens could accompany the suffering of serious illness; the well-off would receive better care than the poor. User fees will penalize the sick and the poor and place financial barriers to access in the way of those who most need health care. Research on user fees has shown that costs would rise, and efficiency would fall. The only beneficiaries would be certain physicians, whose income would increase.
Unfortunately, this appears to be the policy's prime motivation. The OMA's position contradicts not only federal legislation, but both the interests and the overwhelming opinion of Ontario citizens. Not all physicians agree with the OMA's new policy. The Medical Reform Group, an organization of physicians dedicated to the preservation of universal, high-quality medical care, sees the OMA position as a betrayal of public trust. The OMA's willingness to take this position highlights the severe jeopardy in which we find the principles of universal health care. Only strong opposition to further health care cuts, and to the introduction of user fees, will save Canada's most valued social institution.
The OMA's policy paper is not about reform. It is about the protection and supplementation of certain physicians' incomes at the expense of the Canada Health Act, and the health of Ontario citizens. The Medical Reform Group believes that the OMA has the diagnosis, and the prescription, all wrong.
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