Can We Expect Better Health Care Reform?

National health care reform is the issue of the year and decade. The federal government’s refusal to negotiate a new Health Accord left the provincial premiers pushing a rope. Their response six months later was to finally adopt some best clinical practices and purchase a few generic drugs in bulk. Really!

The real importance of the Health Accords was not to keep the provinces happy but to keep Canadians healthy – by fundamentally redirecting the country’s health care resources to that end – regardless of what had been done in the past, or whose ox would have to be gored. It requires leadership, innovation and cooperation and consensus if necessary but not necessarily consensus.

Imagine first dollar basic drug coverage for all Canadians funded by massive savings in drug costs through a single national purchasing agency with an independent drug review process that can demand fair drug pricing across the country. People living in small provinces should not have to move to access coverage available to other Canadians.

Imagine an integrated continuing care system that ensures that we can all get the care and services we need to live independently as long as possible without leaving our homes or communities. That means stable funding and mandatory standards of home care, income support for caregivers, especially those providing heavy care, geriatric care, assisted living services at home and in affordable housing, equitable access to decent nursing homes and quality end of life care. Why not national long term care insurance?

Canada’s health care system is still a patchwork eight years and billions of tax dollars after the Health Accords. Provinces have descended to poaching doctors and nurses from each other.

Is this the best we can expect from our political leaders?

July 2013 Update – What have the Premiers Achieved since they set these priorities?

By January 2013, all provinces and territories, with the exception of Quebec, agreed to establish a price point for six of the most common generic drugs (18 % of the equivalent brand name drug). They hope the agreement constitutes the first step towards a more strategic, comprehensive and coordinated approach to pharmaceutical management.

Although this is a start – it is obviously no replacement for the type of direction, benchmarking and reporting that had been implemented through national standards set by healthcare accords.

CARP is calling for an integrated continuum of post-acute healthcare that follows patients from first diagnosis or acute episode, through initial treatment, ongoing care, and through end of life needs. The current health system is fragmented and falls short of effectively and sustainably meeting health care needs.

Individual components of the health care system, such as acute care, home care, and long-term care are largely effective in treating isolated health issues, but are often dislocated from one another, failing to follow patients through the full spectrum of health needs.

Health care providers must recognize that there is only one patient or health care consumer and go beyond the individual components towards an integrated continuum of care that connects the full range of health

services to patient needs. CARP’s Care Continuum is both person-centred and aims to achieve greater health efficiency and spending sustainability by integrating disconnected health silos.  Click here to read CARP’s vision for healthcare reform: “One Patient”