Analyst’s opinion on the Ontario Health System and how to fix it

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Strathroy, ON- The Ontario health care system isn’t about how much the government is spending; it’s more about where the money is being spent.  “We aren’t getting value out of our health care dollars,” said health policy analyst Dr. Michael Rachlis, during a presentation on Tuesday, June 7.

Dr. Rachlis was the keynote speaker at the third annual “Health Talks” which was hosted by the Middlesex Hospital Alliance, the Four Counties Health Services Foundation, and the Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital Foundation.

According to Dr. Rachlis, research shows that health care’s share of the gross domestic product fell in 2010 and will likely continue to fall for the next three to five years.  “The aging population won’t break the bank,” said Dr. Rachlis. “There are affordable solutions to all of medicare’s apparently intractable problems.”  It’s Dr. Rachlis opinion that the aging population has had, and will have, only a moderate impact on expenditures.  “Aging is like a glacier, not a tsunami,” said Dr. Rachlis. “We have lots of time to prepare and adapt our health system before we get swamped.”

As for the notation that the provincial government is spending more on health care each year, Dr. Rachlis pointed out that this wasn’t the case.  “The share of provincial government spending going to health care has been flat for six years,” said Dr. Rachlis.  Putting more emphasis on keeping people well is what Dr. Rachlis considers the “second stage of medicare”.  It was in 1982 that medicare leader Tommy Douglas first suggested, “We have a health delivery system that is lamentably out of date.”

“The phase number two would be the much more difficult one and that was to alter our delivery system to reduce costs and put and emphasis on preventative medicine,” said Tommy Douglas. “Canadians can be proud of medicare, but what we have to apply ourselves to now, that is, we have not yet grappled seriously with the second phase.”  Dr. Rachlis says, “Our problems arose because we failed to follow Tommy Douglas’s original vision for the second stage of medicare.”

Getting to the second stage is a matter of decision-making, and that’s the problem.

“Canadian governments need to craft new ways of developing health policy,” said Dr. Rachlis. “There currently is no mechanism for public dialogue, and that needs to change.”  To learn more about Dr. Rachlis and his view on medicare, visit his website at: www.michaelrachlis.com        .

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