The next discussion we need to have: Caring for seniors

Natalie Stechyson: What else do we need to start doing to bring down the health care budgets and provide better care for older loved ones?

Susan Eng – CARP: The “conversation” between citizens and their elected officials has to get specific. What are you doing to ensure the system is working for me TODAY? There are examples world wide – and now faced with an out of control health care budget, our politicians might actually concentrate on some solutions

Susan Eng – CARP: But vested interests are a major issue. Bulk purchasing of prescription drugs is coming and you can bet there is an all-out campaign to push back. Remember the industry provoked backlash this year when the Ontario govt changed generic drug pricing?

André Picard: Let me give you just one example of how we can solve a long-term problem, that of “bed-blockers” — people who live in hospital rooms because there is a shortage of nursing home beds. In Sweden, the government decided it would pay providers not according to where patients were being treated but where they should be treated. Suddenly, health regions found themselves getting $500 a day instead of $1200 a day for their bed blockers, and $250 a day for people who should be in homecare. Magically, homecare programs expanded and nursing homes were build — and hospital beds were freed up. Again, it’s about making choices and adopting policies that support those choices.

Comment From MW-MD: I feel that our Gov. is scared to make the major move to put the money where it is needed. Look what happen to the electronic medical record implementation! Support the public option, have a private option, and have over site by an agency and lets get on with looking after our family members!

Susan Eng – CARP: Solutions require a political willingness to fundamentally change the way we are doing things now. Andre profiled a Vancouver hospital that was funded on the basis of how many patients they treated. So the hospital thinks of patients as revenue sources rather than as added costs. Completely changes how people are treated And on E-health – don’t even ask where all the money went

André Picard: We have so many vested interests in our health system that the status quo reigns. Governments fear making changes because they get hammered. The public has to make clear – through the ballot box and otherwise – that their interests are more important than those of specific groups.

Comment From Richard K.: We’re talking a lot about “care for seniors”, but I’m 58 and a long way from being “cared for” any time soon. What I worry about more is that my pension will be there to let me take care of myself. The news today is about Nortel disabled workers benefits not getting protected in the Senate. It makes me wonder if our government is serious about protecting other pensions.

Susan Eng – CARP: People are becoming more and more concerned about whether they will have enough for their retirement especially to deal with unexpected health costs. Keeping the focus on politicians is the right thing to do – the final policy making begins and ends with our elected officials. People cannot created parallel health systems by themselves.