NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

GLOOMY VIEW OVER HUGE HEALTH DEFICIT

May 25, 2007

The Fraser health authority -- responsible for one-third of British Columbia's population - warns in a new report of congested emergency rooms, service delays and new user fees as the province's fastest-growing health region struggles to deal with a large health deficit, says the Globe and Mail.

The report is bleak:

  • The authority is trying to cope with an expected $65-million deficit with measures that include "various revenue opportunities."
  • Some of those include a bid to raise $25-million through increasing residential care "co-payments," enacting "co-payment" for home-support clients and recovering surpluses from, the workers compensation program.
  • There is a need for new capacity in acute care, or the system could reach a  "tipping point" where the entire system is under siege due to a lack of acute care capacity.

The report's introductory letter made the situation even clearer, says the Globe and Mail.  "The lack of current capacity in Acute Care as well as delay in the growth of community services will continue to manifest as emergency department congestion, delays and cancellations of surgical and diagnostic procedures, medical units operating at overcapacity, and delays in rehabilitation and access to community services."

Universal health care critic Adrian Dix and finance critic Bruce Ralston both touted the plan as an example of how the provincial Liberal government is mismanaging health care.  Dix and Ralston, noting the paradox of a crunch in health care when the province has a $3-billion surplus, expressed particular concern about the impact of user fees.

"It's a tax on the most sick and most vulnerable people, people just recovering from surgery who need home care," Dix said.

Source: Ian Bailey, "Report takes gloomy view over huge Fraser Health deficit," Globe and Mail, May 25, 2007.

 

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