B.C. plan to adopt "patient-based" health care funding raises more questions than it answers, says Reid Johnson.
Vancouver (15 April 2010) - The Health Sciences Association of British Columbia (HSABC/NUPGE) welcomes innovative changes in the delivery of health care and will be watching as the patient-focused funding initiative unveiled by the B.C. government unfolds.
HSABC represents health science professionals who deliver critical diagnostic, clinical and rehabilitation services in B.C. hospitals.
“There’s no question our health care system needs to be innovative and responsive,” says HSABC president Reid Johnson.
“But (the government's) announcement raises more questions than it answers. Time will tell if the project does lead to reduced waiting lists and a more efficient health care system," Reid says.
"Ultimately, the priority has to be patients and HSABC will be watching to ensure patients are not forgotten in the focus on efficiency."
Reid says he is concerned that Health Minister Kevin Falcon is not really proposing "patient-based funding, but activity-based funding."
"If funding will be structured to reward performance based on volume, hospitals will be forced into competing for funding based solely on their ability to push patients out the door. And that’s not good health care,” Johnson says.
He argues that British Columbians have already seen a deterioration of access to rehabilitation for patients with services like physiotherapy being moved out of the public system and into private delivery.
Reid says only about 50% of British Columbians have an extended health care plan.
“If you don’t have an extended health care plan ... and can’t afford to pay for physiotherapy and other rehabilitation services, chances are you are not going to get the rehabilitation you need to make you better. Sending patients home without proper recovery is not the right health care choice,” he adds.
Johnson also questions the $250 million price tag for the patient-focused funding project. "Where is that money coming from?" he asks.
"Are health authorities going to have to come up with the money out of their budgets? That could spell disaster for health care. Last year, government forced health authorities to take $360 million out of their budgets and it resulted in severe cuts to services, including cutting 10,000 MRIs and hundreds of surgeries, which resulted in driving up wait lists.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE