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Letter - CMA Submission to the Minister of Health

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9286
Last Reviewed
2009-02-21
Date
2000-09-06
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Response to consultation
Last Reviewed
2009-02-21
Date
2000-09-06
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) values the open, constructive and ongoing dialogue that has developed over the past year with you and your ministry in seeking solutions to the critical issues and challenges that face Canada's health system. As an open society, it is essential to the future of the health care system that every effort is made to work together to find lasting solutions to what is a series of complex and interdependent social policy issues. With many policy challenges placed squarely on the table, it is timely that we move beyond issue identification and strive to develop a comprehensive plan for health care that incorporates a set of solutions that are strategic, targeted, long-term, and sustainable. Given the evolving nature of the health care system, the plan must also be flexible, adaptive and innovative. To assist you as you enter into extensive policy discussions with your provincial and territorial colleagues, CMA believes it is crucial that there is a clear sense of where the medical profession stands on a number of issues. The purpose of the letter is to outline an action plan to revitalize Canada's health care system. The plan is a series of constructive proposals in which the sum is greater than the individual components. The proposals are grouped under the categories of sustainable and accountable federal funding, national health system innovation and physician resource strategy. This information will likely form the basis of the CMA's presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance later this Fall. By their very nature, the proposals are strategically targeted and align policy solutions to a number of key policy challenges that face the health care system today, tomorrow and into the future. The proposals are designed to complement one another. They should be considered as a series of investments that address a spectrum of policy issues in the health care system. Our proposals are designed in such a manner that they are sufficiently flexible in meeting provincial and territorial health care priorities, while ensuring that the federal government is fully recognized for its essential investment. Furthermore, to promote a higher degree of accountability, transparency and legitimacy, each proposal sets out its own rationale and includes, where possible, an order-of-magnitude cost estimate. In specific terms, the total cost of the recommendations that the CMA is putting forward is a minimum of $10.15 billion. Each investment is accounted for as follows: * Health-specific Federal Cash Restoration $3.81 billion * National Health Technology Fund $1.74 billion * National Health Connectivity Investment $4.10 billion * National Physician Resource Strategy $0.50 billion Total $10.15 billion The attached documents summarize our recommendations and provide detailed information each proposal. The CMA has offered a powerful and strategic combination of policy initiatives designed to revitalize Canada's health care system. The proposals are realistic, practical and serve to focus on making the health care system one that is innovative, responsive and accessible by all Canadians. Finally, it must also be made clear that no one group can address all of the policy issues and challenges facing the health care system. Thus, the CMA's commitment to working with the federal government and others to ensure that our health care system will be there for all Canadians in need is once again offered. The CMA looks forward to discussing with you how these specific proposals can be implemented. Sincerely yours, Original signed by Peter Barrett Peter Barrett, MD, FRCSC President enclosures c.c. Prime Minister and Provincial and Territorial Premiers Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health Federal Minister of Finance CMA Board of Directors CMA Provincial and Territorial Divisions and Affiliated Societies SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS September 6, 2000 In seeking to place the health care system on the road to long-term sustainability, the CMA is committed to working in close partnership with the federal government and others identifying, developing and implementing policy initiatives that serve to strengthen Canadians' access to quality health care. In the spirit of placing Canada's health care system on the road to recovery, the CMA offers the following recommendations: 1. That the federal government fund Canada's publicly financed health care system on a long-term, sustainable basis to ensure quality health care for all Canadians. 2. That the federal government, in consultation with the provinces and territories, and stakeholders, introduce a health-specific cash transfer mechanism to promote greater public accountability, transparency and linkage of sources to their respective uses. 3. That the federal government, at a minimum, increase federal cash for health care by an additional $3.8 billion, effective immediately. 4. That beginning April 1, 2001, the federal government introduce an escalator mechanism that will grow the real value of health-specific cash over time. 5. That the federal government must allocate new monies, over and above the $3.8 billion increase to the health-specific cash floor to facilitate the development of a comprehensive and seamless system of care. 6. That the federal government commit a minimum of $1.74 billion over three years to A National Health Technology Fund, to increase country-wide access to needed health technologies. 7. That the federal government make a minimum investment of $4.1 billion in National Health Connectivity 8. That the federal government immediately establish a Physician Education and Training Fund in the amount of $500 million to fund: (1) increased enrolment in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education; and (2) the expanded infrastructure (both human and physical resources) of Canada's 16 medical schools needed to accommodate the increased enrolment. 9. That the federal government increase funding targeted to institutes of postsecondary education to alleviate some of the pressures driving tuition fee increases. 10. That the federal government enhance financial support systems for medical students, provided that they are: (a) non-coercive; (b) developed concomitantly or in advance of any tuition increase; (c) in direct proportion to any tuition fee increase; and (d) provided at levels that meet the needs of the students. ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY... AN ACTION PLAN FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO REVITALIZE CANADA'S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM September 2000 SUSTAINABLE AND ACCOUNTABLE FEDERAL FUNDING Since the introduction of the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) on April 1, 1996, the CMA has taken the strong position that the federal government must restore the level of federal cash notionally allocated to health care that was in place in 1995. Since that time, the federal government has introduced a series of important first steps towards stabilizing Canada's health care system. Specifically, in 1999, the government announced a five-year fiscal framework that reinvested $11.5 billion, on a cumulative basis, in the health care system. In the budget papers, it was clear that this money was to be earmarked for the health care system only. In 2000, an additional one-time investment of $2.5 billion, unearmarked through the CHST over four years, was announced. While seen as a series of important first steps, the figures, however, must be placed in context. Specifically, it is important to note that the CHST monies that have been announced are a combination of increases to the CHST cash floor and "one-time" injections (i.e., "supplements"). Table 1 accounts for the increases via the CHST and its supplement. (NOTE Table content does not display correctly -- SEE PDF) TABLE 11 CANADA HEALTH AND SOCIAL TRANSFER BUDGET IMPACTS (1999 AND 2000) 1999/00 TO 2003/04 ($ BILLIONS) Year 1999/00 2000/01* 2001/02 2002/03 2003/04 5 Years Budget 2000 Increase CHST Supplement** -- 1.0 0.5 0.5 0.5 2.5 Budget 1999 Increase CHST Supplement*** CHST Cash Floor 2.0 -- 1.0 1.0 0.5 2.0 -- 2.5 -- 2.5 3.5 8.0 Budget 1998 Cash 12.5 12.5 12.5 12.5 12.5 62.5 Total CHST Cash 14.5 15.5 15.5 15.5 15.5 76.5 CHST Tax Transfers 14.9 15.3 15.8 16.5 17.2 79.7 Total CHST 29.4 30.8 31.3 32.0 32.7 156.2 * All figures for 2000/01 onward, with the exception of CHST cash, are projections. ** The $2.5 billion cash supplement will be paid to a third party trust and accounted for in 1999/00 by the federal government. Payments will be made in a manner that treats all jurisdictions equitably, regardless of when they draw down funds over four years. *** The $3.5 billion cash supplement was paid into a third party trust and accounted for by the federal government in 1998/99. In the latter case, these "CHST supplements," totaling $3.5 billion over three years in 1999 and $2.5 billion over four years in 2000 are specifically designed not to be included as part of the CHST cash floor. Nor is it intended to grow over time through an escalator. In fact the supplement, which is framed as a multi-year investment is charged to the preceding year's budget. Thus, once allocated and spent, the money is gone. While the CHST supplements were important first steps, the CMA views them as "tentative half-measures" and by no means a substitute for fostering short-, medium- and/or long-term planning of the health care system. A long-term commitment by the federal government is required to increase its health-specific cash allocation. Recognizing the limitations of the CHST supplement, on an annual basis, this means that CHST cash for health care increased by $2.0 billion in 1999/00; it will remain at the same level for 2000/01 and then increase by $500 million (to $2.5 billion) in 2001/02, and remain at that level for the 2002/03 and 2003/04. In other words, only in 2002/03 will the CHST cash floor return to its 1995 nominal spending levels, 7 years after the fact, with no adjustment for the increasing health care needs of Canadians, inflation or economic growth. The budget announcements by the federal government in 1998/99 and 1999/00 are presented in Table 2. Please note that the amounts applied to the CHST cash floor and the cash supplements have been separated. TABLE 2 TOTAL CHST CASH, HEALTH-SPECIFIC CHST CASH, CHST SUPPLEMENT 1995/96 TO 2003/04 ($ BILLION) Year Total CHST Cash CHST Cash for Health Care* CHST Supplement Total CHST Cash for Health Care 1995/96 18.5 7.59 N/A 7.59 1996/97 14.7 6.03 N/A 6.03 1997/98 12.5 5.13 N/A 5.13 1998/99 12.5 5.13 N/A 5.13 1999/00 12.5 + 2.0 = 14.5 5.13 3.5 8.63 2000/01 13.5 + 2.0 = 15.5 6.13 2.5 8.63** 2001/02 14.5 + 1.0 = 15.5 7.13 N/A 7.13 2002/03 15.0.+ 0.5 = 15.5 7.63 N/A 7.63 2003/04 15.0 + 0.5 = 15.5 7.63 N/A 7.63 * It is assumed that in 1995/96 the notional allocation to health care is 41% of CHST. Prior to the introduction of the CHST, Established Programs Financing (EPF) and the Canada Assistance Plan (CAP) were in place. In addition, federal cash that has been "earmarked" allocated for health care and added to the CHST base, as outlined in the past two federal budgets, are included ** Assumes that the $2.5 billion supplement was allocated to health care only. It is important to pay careful attention with regard to how the figures have been derived and on what basis. Close attention has been paid to the distinction between the increase to the CHST cash floor and the introduction of a "CHST supplement," which has been applied by the federal government over the last two years. In the latter case, the supplement has not been factored into the CHST cash floor analysis since it is a one time expenditure, charged to the previous fiscal year, that can never grow over time. Simply put, once allocated it is gone in perpetuity and does not have any further application in terms of facilitating future growth of the CHST cash floor. Based on Table 2, it is estimated that the CHST cash floor in support of health care currently stands at $6.13 billion in 2000/01. This is roughly $1.5 billion below the 1995/96 level without adjusting the cash floor in support of health care to reflect a number of factors including, a growing and aging population, the depreciation of the system's physical infrastructure, the cost of pharmaceuticals, or inflation, to name a few. At a minimum, the federal government must put back what it has taken out of the system. Specifically, the CMA believes that the federal government must re-establish the level of CHST cash allocated to health care at the 1995 level, adjusted to reflect the changing health care needs of Canadians in the coming year of 2001. The question then becomes on what basis can one arrive at a reasonable estimate? Based on a recent study prepared by the Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health, the CMA believes that this is an important point of departure in considering orders of magnitude.2 Therefore, if one applies the growth factor that was recently calculated by the Provinces and Territories in its "cost driver" study (at 4.6% per annum), the health portion of CHST cash in 1995 at $7.59 billion is adjusted upwards to $9.94 billion in 2001 dollars (see Table 3). TABLE 3 ESTIMATED VALUE OF CHST HEALTH-SPECIFIC CASH FLOOR 1995/96 TO 2001/02 ($ BILLIONS) YEAR CURRENT CHST CASH FLOOR FOR HEALTH CARE ESCALATOR APPLIED TO BASE YEAR OF 1995/96 (% INCREASE) EXPECTED HEALTH-SPECIFIC CASH FLOOR 1995/96 7.59 4.6 1996/97 6.03 4.6 7.94 1997/98 5.13 4.6 8.30 1998/99 5.13 4.6 8.69 1999/00 5.13 4.6 9.09 2000/01 6.13 4.6 9.50 2001/02 7.13 4.6 9.94 Based on the recent combination of announcements by the federal government to increase the CHST cash floor and the supplements, it is estimated that the 2000/2001 health-specific cash floor stands at $6.13 billion. Therefore, to bring the health-specific cash that flows through the CHST in line with the changing health care needs of Canadians, it should, at a minimum, increase by $3.81 billion effective immediately. In reviewing the approach taken by the CMA, it is important to understand that the $3.81 billion figure is a health-specific cash calculation only. As the CHST is currently configured, it flows federal cash for health, post-secondary education and income support programs. Currently, the Provinces and Territories are adamant that the federal government return the CHST cash floor to its 1993-94 level of $18.7 billion by adding $4.2 billion immediately. However, the $4.2 billion that is being requested is in "1993/94 dollars"; it is not adjusted to account for the changing needs of Canadians between 1993/94 and 2000/2001 for health, post-secondary education or income support programs. While raising the health-specific cash floor will serve to stabilize the system, it is likely that there will be future debate about what is the appropriate share of federal cash. While there are those who factor in the value of the tax point transfer, it is only federal cash that can be used to sanction the provinces and territories that are in violation of the Canada Health Act.3 As the Minister of Health was recently quoted "For the Canadian government to continue to have the moral authority to influence reform, we have to be a more robust contributor."4 In this context, the adage "no cash, no clout applies" in its strictest sense. Therefore, while federal cash must be reinfused into the health care system, there must also be substantive policy discussion about what the federal government's contribution should be in the future, and through what mechanism. For example, should it be a fixed amount only; should it be tied to provincial/territorial public expenditures on health; and/or how should it grow over time? The Need for Financial Accountability In making a critical investment in the health care system, the CMA strongly supports the principle of financial accountability. This is consistent with the federal government's call for increased accountability in the health care system. After all, if the federal government is calling on provincial and territorial governments, and providers to be more accountable for what they do, then the federal government should be prepared to be measured by the very same principle when it comes to funding Canada's health care system. Therefore, every effort should be made to ensure that health-specific federal monies are visible and transparent. The CMA view is also consistent with the underpinnings of the recently negotiated Social Union Framework Agreement which calls for greater public accountability on all levels of government. These issues have been recently noted by the Auditor-General of Canada "Under the CHST, the federal government does not know its exact total contribution to provinces and territories for health care as distinct from social assistance and services and post-secondary education."5 The report goes on to recommend that the federal government explore options to improve information on its total contribution to health care, and work with the provinces and territories to develop requirements for information and reporting purposes with respect to CHST additional funds. The Canadian Institute for Health Information also observed that "following the introduction of the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) in April 1996, total federal contributions to health care cannot be clearly defined."6 Furthermore a recent policy document released by Mr. Tom Kent, one of the policy architects of Medicare in the 1960s, refers to the CHST as "jelly...It can be varied as we choose, spent however each province chooses." 7 He also says "Ensure that the federal financial contribution to the medicare partnership is made continuingly clear. This transparency is required not only for the credit of the present government but, equally, to protect the provinces against any future federal government thinking that it could cut its funding with little political penalty...In short, the federal need for recognition of funding and the provincial need for security of funding are not in conflict."8 In many ways, the announcement of the $11.5 billion, cumulatively, in 1999 was a de facto recognition of the need for a health-specific allocation in support of health care. The recent calculations released by the Federal Department of Finance only serve to reinforce this point.9 At a time of increased societal awareness and demand for accountability, the CHST mechanism appears to be anachronistic by having one indivisible cash transfer that does not recognize explicitly the federal government's contribution to health in a post-Social Union Agreement world. Therefore, the CHST cash transfer mechanism should be restructured to ensure that there is a higher degree of transparency and explicit linkage between the sources of federal funding and their respective uses at the provincial and territorial level. This can be achieved such that the provinces and territories have the flexibility to allocate resources on the basis of agreed-upon priorities, while ensuring that the federal government is fully recognized for its investment. It would also underscore the relationship between financial "inputs" and health "outputs." A Mechanism to Grow the Real Value of Health-Specific Federal Cash Over Time In addition to increasing the federal cash floor in support of health care, there is also the need to ensure that the cash can grow over time to meet the future needs of Canadians. With this in mind, the CMA recommends the re-introduction of an escalator mechanism to grow the real value of health-specific federal cash. If left as is, federal cash will continue to erode over time with increasing demands from an ageing and growing population, epidemiological trends, new technologies, to name a few. In previous years, the CMA has proposed an escalator formula which recognizes that future health care costs are not always synchronized with economic growth. In fact, in times of economic hardship (e.g., unemployment, stress, and familial discord), a greater burden is placed on the health care system. The concept of an escalator is not new. In fact, at the time of Established Programs Financing, a three-year moving average of nominal Gross Domestic Product per capita was in place. This policy was regrettably tinkered with and then eliminated in the mid-1990s.10 Thus, the CMA believes that now is the time to reintroduce a policy measure that served federal-provincial/territorial fiscal relations well. Such a policy measure would be a clear signal to the provinces and territories that the federal government is prepared to be there over the long-term, and is prepared to move away from the annual finger-pointing that plagues federal/provincial/territorial collaboration when it comes to the future of the health care system. To illustrate the financial impact of an escalator, if the federal government's health-specific cash floor is $9.94 billion, assuming an escalator of 4.6% would yield an additional $457 million to the provinces and territories in year 1, and $547 million in year 5. This is not prohibitive when one considers the current revenues of the federal government, and its anticipated series of surpluses.11 It should also be noted that these recommendations are consistent with the direction set out by the National Liberal Caucus Task Force on Health Care Sustainability.12 Combined, the issues of the level of health-specific federal cash for health care and the need for an escalator mechanism speak not only to the fundamental principles of the necessity of stabilizing the health care system, but also in terms of the federal government taking the necessary concrete leadership steps to ensure that adequate and long-term funding is available to meet the health care needs of all Canadians. Their rationale is reasoned and strategic; they give the federal government full recognition for its investment and the provinces and territories flexibility in allocating monies to meet their respective priorities. It also serves to build on and strengthen the core foundation of Canada's health care system. If Canada's health care system is not only to survive, but thrive in the new millennium, we must give serious consideration to a range of possible solutions that place our system, and the federal role within that system, on a more secure and sustainable financial footing. The CMA therefore recommends: 1. That the federal government fund Canada's publicly financed health care system on a long-term, sustainable basis to ensure quality health care for all Canadians. 2. That the federal government, in consultation with the provinces and territories, and stakeholders, introduce a health-specific cash transfer mechanism to promote greater public accountability, transparency and linkage of sources to their respective uses. 3. That the federal government, at a minimum, increase federal cash for health care by an additional $3.8 billion, effective immediately. 4. That beginning April 1, 2001, the federal government introduce an escalator mechanism that will grow the real value of health-specific cash over time. Looking to the Future... While the federal government must make a series of investments to stabilize the health care system, it must also consider the broader spectrum of health care services needed to ensure that Canadians do not fall through the cracks. In the past, the CMA has proposed a Health System Renewal Fund. The purpose of the multi-year fund was to recognize the changing nature of our health care system and to facilitate the development of a more comprehensive and seamless system of care. The Fund proposed that as the system continues to evolve additional transitional funding is required to ensure that it remains accessible, and can do so with minimal interruption to Canadians. That being said, over the longer-term, the CMA recognizes that the federal government will have to move from transitional funding to investing significant new federal dollars that will not jeopardize access to quality acute care services. The CMA recommends: 5. That the federal government must allocate new monies, over and above the $3.8 billion increase to the health-specific cash floor to facilitate the development of a comprehensive and seamless system of care. HEALTH SYSTEM INNOVATION In reviewing the current state of Canada's health care system and the need to carefully consider its future, there are at least two fundamental issues that require our collective wisdom and action. First, there is the need for long-term sustainable funding. The second concerns the overall structure of the health care system, and the degree to which it must be revitalized. Often portrayed as a separate set of strategic policy issues, system funding and system structure are linked inextricably in a practical sense when it comes to ensuring timely access to quality health care. When it comes to structure, the CMA is of the view that renewal and innovation is essential if we, as a society, are to ensure that our health system remains sustainable and responsive over the short-, medium- and longer-term. While we must ensure that the health care system of tomorrow is structurally sound, it must also be sufficiently flexible, adaptive and focused on excellence. The CMA, therefore, proposes that the federal government invest in two areas that are strategically targeted, and serve to facilitate future innovation, adaptability and flexibility in the health care system. At the same time, they also give the provinces and territories full flexibility in determining their priorities within the mandate of the funds while giving the federal government full recognition for its investment. National Health Technology Fund As part of the CMA's submission to the 2000 House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance pre-budget consultations, it was recommended that the government establish a National Health Technology Fund. The purpose of the Fund is to address the significant concerns that have been raised about the lack of access to needed diagnostic and treatment technologies in Canada. Based on the most recent OECD information, Canada ranks poorly when it comes to the availability of technologies, ranking 12th (out of 15) for CT Scanners; 11th (out of 13) for MRIs; and 10th (out of 11) for Lithotripters. Canada ranks favorably only in the availability of radiation equipment 5th (out of 13) OECD countries. Given the very real concerns that have been raised with regard to waiting times across the country, Canadians deserve better when it comes to making available needed health technologies that can effectively diagnose and treat disease. Furthermore, it is clear that we must do more to facilitate the diffusion of new cost-effective health technologies that are properly evaluated and meet defined standards of quality. While physicians are trained to provide quality medical care to all Canadians, they must, at the same time, have "the tools" to do so. In the absence of ready access to current and emerging health technologies, Canadians face the prospect of continued and untreated progression of disease, increased anxiety over their health status, and possibly premature death, while the health care system and society bears the direct and indirect costs associated with delayed access. If Canada were to provide a level of access to these medical technologies that was comparable to other countries with similar standards of living, a minimum expenditure of $1.0 billion would be required for capital costs alone. Our proposal, however, recommends that targeted resources be provided to the provinces and territories to operate the equipment for a three-year period at an overall cost of $1.74 billion. This would give the provinces and territories the opportunity to factor in these additional resources into their respective health budgets. The CMA recommends: 6. That the federal government commit a minimum of $1.74 billion over three years to A National Health Technology Fund, to increase country-wide access to needed health technologies. For your information, a copy of the detailed proposal is enclosed. National Health Connectivity Investment In addition to a national health technologies fund there is a need for significant attention to be paid to ensure access to both hardware and software in order to develop a health information infrastructure that will create "connectivity" throughout the health care system. The health care system operates within an information intensive environment. However, to date, a substantial amount of the data being collected is gleaned as a derivative of administrative or billing/financial systems. Although this provides useful information for arriving at a "high level" view of the operation of the health care system, it is generally of limited value to health care providers at the interface with their patients. Much of the recent debate about the future of the health care system has focused on the need to improve its adaptability and overall integration. One critical ingredient in re-vitalizing the system has to with the necessary information technologies that physicians and other health care professionals must have at their disposal. Specifically, health care providers require access to a secure electronic health record (EHR) that provides details of all health services provided to the patient in front of them. An EHR that meets the clinical needs of health care providers when interacting with their patients will serve to benefit not only the health of Canadians, but the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system. Introduction of new technology, such as an EHR, should be viewed as a "social investment" in the acquisition of knowledge. This benefits patients through the potential reduction in mortality/morbidity rates due to misdiagnosis and improper treatment as well as the reduction in medication errors through access to online drug reference databases and by largely eliminating handwritten prescriptions. Health promotion and disease prevention is enhanced through improved monitoring and patient education as well as improved decision-making by providers and patients. These benefits represent only a sub-set of the potential benefits to Canadians. There are many benefits to providers in having access to an EHR, ranging from administrative cost savings to decreased loss of medical records and improved privacy from physical intrusion of a medical record. The healthcare system as a whole benefits from increased efficiencies and effectiveness. In the United States, the Veterans Health Services and Research Administration (VHSRA) in a controlled prospective study found that a computerized patient record to support providers in outpatient geriatric clinics resulted in cost reductions and improvements in the quality and outcomes of patient care. With baby boomers some 10 - 15 years from retirement, cost reductions and improvements in the quality and outcomes of patient care are not an insignificant benefit of an EHR.13 With this as an introduction, the CMA recommends to the federal government that a national investment in health connectivity be established with the objective of improving the health of Canadians as well as improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system by funding an information technology infrastructure for the health care system. The CMA has determined that a preliminary estimate of the total initial cost of such an investment in knowledge acquisition is a point order-of-magnitude estimate of $4.1 billion. This represents a capital of cost $1.6 billion with a five year implementation and operating costs of $2.5 billion, plus or minus 20%. The yearly operating costs after 5 years are estimated to be $830 million. Of course, substantial additional work is required to arrive at more precise cost estimates as well as the potential savings of such an endeavour. Such an investment would provide Canadians with a bold vision of the future of health care and the federal government's role in moving the health care system into the future. The CMA proposal for an investment in National Health Connectivity dovetails with the recent views of the First Ministers at their most recent meeting. The CMA concurs with the views of First Ministers that the broadened application of information and communications technologies to the health care sector will improve the quality, timeliness and integration of health care services. The CMA, as the representative of Canadian physicians, can play a pivotal partnership role in achieving the buy-in and cooperation of physicians and other health care providers, through a multi-stakeholder process that would encompass the health care team. Our involvement would be a critical success factor in helping the federal government in making a connected health care system a realizable goal in the years to come. The CMA therefore recommends: 7. That the federal government make a minimum investment of $4.1 billion in National Health Connectivity. NATIONAL PHYSICIAN RESOURCE STRATEGY As the federal government is aware, Canada is experiencing a physician shortage that will be significantly exacerbated in the next decade. In November 1999, when the Canadian Medical Forum (CMF) and Society of Rural Physicians of Canada met with the federal and provincial governments, a detailed report on physician supply, containing five specific recommendations, was submitted. The CMA and the other CMF organizations are encouraged to see that many of the jurisdictions across Canada agreed with the need to increase enrolment in undergraduate medical education programs, although we are still far from the 2,000 by 2000 proposed by the CMF. These increases in undergraduate enrolment in medicine require funding not only for the positions themselves, but also for the necessary infrastructure (human and physical resources) to ensure high quality training. The concomitant increases in postgraduate positions that will be required three to four years after entry into medical school must also be resourced appropriately. It is important to note that these positions are independent of the extra positions recommended in the November 1999 CMF report that are needed to increase: (a) flexibility in the postgraduate training system; (b) the capacity to provide training to international medical graduates; and (c) opportunities for reentry for physicians who have been in practice.) The federal government needs to demonstrate its commitment to the principle of self-sufficiency in the production of physicians to meet the medical needs of the Canadian population. The CMA recommends: 8. That the federal government immediately establish a Physician Education and Training Fund in the amount of $500 million to fund: (1) increased enrolment in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education; and (2) the expanded infrastructure (both human and physical resources) of Canada's 16 medical schools needed to accommodate the increased enrolment. Escalation and Deregulation of Tuition Fees The CMA remains very concerned about high, and rapidly escalating, medical school tuition fee increases across Canada. The CMA is particularly concerned about their subsequent impact on the physician workforce and the Canadian health care system. In addition to the significant impact of high tuition fees on current and potential medical students, the CMA believes that high tuition fees will have a number of consequences, including: (1) creating barriers to application to medical school and threaten the socioeconomic diversity of future health care providers serving the public; and (2) exacerbating the physician 'brain drain' to the United States so that new physicians can pay down their large and growing debts more quickly. The CMA decries tuition deregulation in Canadian medical schools and recommends: 9. That the federal government increase funding targeted to institutes of postsecondary education to alleviate some of the pressures driving tuition fee increases. 10. That the federal government enhance financial support systems for medical students, provided that they are: (a) non-coercive; (b) developed concomitantly or in advance of any tuition increase; (c) in direct proportion to any tuition fee increase; and (d) provided at levels that meet the needs of the students. Proposals for a National Health Technology Fund Currently, there is a crisis in confidence among Canadians that access to quality health care services will be there when they need it. In addition, there is a crisis of morale among health care providers who are concerned that they are not able to provide the quality care their patients need. One of the areas that your government could show strong and effective leadership is in the development of a national health technologies infrastructure program. In its 2000 pre-budget submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance the CMA made the following recommendation: "That the federal government establish a National Health Technology Fund to increase country-wide access to needed health technologies". The purpose of this recommendation recognizes that there are country-wide concerns with the availability of current health technologies in Canada and the speed with which the distribution of new technologies is taking place. In both instances, they have a direct impact on the ability of Canadians to access, within a reasonable time, needed health technologies. As a consequence, Canadians are facing ever-growing waiting lists for access to needed health technology services (including magnetic resonance imagers; computed tomography scanners; lithotripters; radiation therapy, dialysis) which are essential in the early detection of cancers (e.g., breast, prostate, lung), tumours, circulatory complications (e.g., stroke; hardening of the arteries) and treatment of disease. At the same time, physicians are either delayed or denied the ability to use proven state-of-the-art health technologies to assist them as clinicians. In the absence of ready access to current and emerging health technologies, Canadians face the prospect of continued and untreated progression of disease, increased anxiety over their health status, and possibly premature death, while the health care system and society bears the direct and indirect costs associated with delayed access. In considering this issue, the consensus view is that there is a lack of sustainable financial (i.e., capital) resources to purchase needed health technologies. As well, there also appears to be a lack of ongoing financial resources to ensure that the technology can be operated and maintained (i.e., operational) allowing for access on an ongoing basis. Notwithstanding the supply of health technologies, questions have also been raised about the adequate supply of health care professionals that are needed to operate the technology, and associated physical infrastructure to facilitate reasonable access to care. Currently Provincial and Territorial governments, and other groups have called on the federal government to continue its reinvestment in the health care system via the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST). However, one drawback of the transfer mechanism is that it is "blind" with no linkage or accountability between federal cash and its intended uses. Recognizing that there is an urgent need for additional funds to be invested and allocated for needed health technologies, the question from a policy perspective is how to design an accountable, targeted and visible program that will invest federal cash into a specific area of the health care system without intruding in the jurisdictional responsibilities of the Provinces and Territories. One approach is for the federal government to announce the creation of a National Health Technology Fund (NHTF). It is proposed that the NHTF would have the following features: 1) The NHTF would be a time-limited program with the singular focus of assisting the Provinces and Territories in the funding and acquisition of needed health technologies. 2) The NHTF would require that all Provinces and Territories apply to the federal government program for funding for needed health technologies. By so doing, it would give the Provinces and Territories full flexibility in determining their technological priorities, how many and what mix of technologies should be allocated in their jurisdiction. 3) The NHTF would provide full financing (i.e., capital) for the purchase of the technology, and defined resources to defray the operational costs associated with the health technologies across the country. Available monies to the Provinces and Territories could be allocated on a per capita basis and/or cost-sharing basis. 4) Once the program has been sun-setted, the Provinces and Territories would be responsible for the ongoing (operational) funding and maintenance for the technologies. The CMA believes that the form of the fund must be closely aligned with its function and would, therefore, make the following specific recommendations: 1. The NHTF would explicitly link the source of federal funding with its intended use at the Provincial and Territorial level - establishing a new level of federal accountability in financing strategic components of the health care system. 2. The federal government's investment in health care would be visible, with full recognition for the investment. 3. The federal government's investment would directly contribute to the increasing patient access to health technologies and reducing waiting lists across the country. 4. The NHTF would be targeted funding in an area of need. As designed, the NHTF would not be seen as intruding on the Provincial and Territorial decision-making process. The NHTF would give the Provinces and Territories full flexibility to apply for federal funding, as well as determining the number and mix of health technologies. Notwithstanding the immediacy and importance of the federal government making this critical investment in the health care system, there are a series of benefits to the federal government, Canadians and institutions/providers. The following are some of the benefits the CMA would ask you to consider: The Federal Government 1. The federal government begins the process of re-establishing its leadership role when it comes to preserving and enhancing Canadians' access to needed health technologies, and assisting in the stabilization of the acute care system. 2. The Fund avoids transferring non-earmarked money (such as via the CHST) to the Provinces and Territories, and ensures that it will be invested in a specific area of priority. 3. The NHTF is a visible and accountable Fund for which the federal government can take full credit. The Public 1. Canadians will benefit directly in terms of having increased access to needed health technologies. 2. Canadians will be fully aware of the federal government's investment into the acute care system. 3. Canadians will benefit in terms of quicker diagnosis and treatment of disease. 4. The public's confidence in its publicly financed health care system will improve. Improved access will reduce the direct (e.g., time off from work) and indirect costs (i.e., caring for family members) of illness, and accelerate Canadians' return to functional status. Health Care Institutions and Providers 1. The additional funding will give institutions increased flexibility in purchasing needed health technologies. 2. It will give institutions the ability to provide more readily accessible health care to Canadians. 3. Providers will have state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment tools to provide quality health care to all Canadians. The CMA has assessed the cost implications of this national initiative and this information is attached. In addition to a national health technologies fund there is a need for significant attention to be paid to ensure access to both hardware and software in order to develop a health information infrastructure that will create "connectivity" throughout the health care system. The objective would be to foster the integration of the components of the system across the continuum of care supported by evidence-based decision-making by both clinicians and managers. The CMA would like to work with you and your colleague, the Minister of Industry, to explore opportunities to work in partnership with the profession and Canada's high technology industrial sector to develop this health information infrastructure. It is our hope that your government will give serious consideration to our recommendation for a national health technologies fund. The CMA believes that such a fund is clearly warranted. Cost Estimates: In support of the Canadian Medical Association's proposal for a National Health Technology Fund, the following cost estimates, based on the best available data, for the acquisition of medical technology has been compiled. The most recent data available on medical technology comparisons between countries is from the OECD (1997). Equipment costs, in terms of acquisition, siting and operating costs where provided by CMA Affiliates as noted in the cost estimates. If Canada were to provide a level of access to these medical technologies that was comparable to other countries with similar standards of living a minimum expenditure of $1 billion would be required for capital costs alone. Our program, however, in keeping with the spirit of the Canada Health Act, recommends that resources be provided to the provinces/territories to operate the equipment for a three year period at an overall cost (capital and three years of operating costs) of $1.74 billion. This would give the provinces/territories the opportunity to factor in these additional operating costs into their respective health budgets over the three year period. It should be noted that the CMA's estimates do not address the aging state of Canada's existing medical technologies. Unfortunately, information is not available to provide an estimate of the costs of updating such equipment. Medical Technology Acquisition Cost Estimates: Purpose: To estimate the costs of funding a National Health Technology Program. Data Sources: * OECD Health Data 99 - Number of units of technology equipment per million population for countries reporting data for 1997 (most recent year). * Costing information courtesy of: 1) Canadian Association of Radiologists; 2) Winnipeg Health Region Authority; and 3) Canadian Urology Association Data: * Capital cost includes, equipment acquisition cost and siting cost (building space, mechanical, technical, electrical, etc.). * Operating cost includes, yearly service contract and estimate for technical support staff. It does not include expenditures on medical services. Methodology: 1) Medical technologies included: - Computed Tomography scanners (CT scanners) - Magnetic Resonance Imaging units (MRI) - Radiation therapy equipment (linear accelerators, cobalt-60 units, caesium-137 telepathy units, low to orthovoltage x-ray units, high dose rate brachytherapy units, low dose rate brachytherapy units, conventional brachytherapy) - Lithotripters (extracorporeal shock wave lithotriptors) - Positron Emission Tomography (PET) 2) Technologies are expressed in units per million population and are compared only with countries included in the OECD database for 1997 that had a purchasing power parity PPP $ GDP per capita greater than $20,000. Canada's PPP GDP per capita in 1997 was $23,745 while the average for the comparator countries was $23,749. A GDP criteria for comparator inclusion was used to compare Canada with countries that have similar standards of living and potentially similar demands for access to their health care system and to medical technology. 3) The comparator countries are mainly from Europe which have a very high population density. The number of units per million population don't take into account the geographic diversity of Canada. 4) PET data were provided by the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) who stated there were 200 PETs in the world in 1998. Europe and the USA each had a 40% share with Canada having a 3% share used mostly for research. CAR estimates that accounting for population size; and growth; and that PETs in Canada are mostly used for research, an additional 10 units are required. 5) The equipment highlighted are more readily identifiable given their high acquisition costs but other medical technologies in Canadian hospitals need replacement or upgrading as well. For example, gamma cameras are generally 10 to 15 years old and need to be replaced with gated imaging cameras at a cost of $650,000 each. Colour doppler ultrasound machines are also required at $200,000 each. As well brachytherapy equipment, which is used for cancer treatment, is becoming increasingly obsolete and has a replacement cost of $750,000 per unit. 6) An 85% factor has been used to estimate requirements for other medical technologies. That is, CAR estimates that radiological high technology medical equipment represents 85% of the overall cost of radiological medical technology. Therefore overall capital costs (equipment and siting) have been grossed up by a factor of (1/.85) or 17.65% to allow for the purchase of other medical technology equipment that cannot be accounted for with the information available. 7) Equipment acquisition cost estimates (excluding siting costs) are based on average estimated costs. Depending upon the sophistication of the equipment the ranges are: CT scanners: $0.50m - $1.50m Linear accelerators: MRIs: $1.25m - $2.50m Low energy: $1.50m Lithotripters: $1.25m - $1.50m High energy $1.80m 8) Operating costs have been calculated over a three-year period so that all provinces/territories would be able to make use of the program which is in keeping with the spirit if not the terms of the Canada Health Act. It would also give them the opportunity to factor these additional operating costs into their respective health budgets after the 3 years. Caveats: The cost estimates reflect the additional cost of bringing Canada up to a standard of access to medical technology of developed countries with similar $ PPP GDP per capita. The cost estimates do not take into account any replacement of existing medical technology equipment that may be required. The acquisition cost of medical technology equipment is only one factor. Associated with such equipment are the costs of a physical site, yearly service contracts and the yearly operating cost of materials and personnel. Findings The estimated overall capital cost is $1 billion. The overall cost of the program, which includes resources to operate the equipment for a three year period, is $1.74 billion. 1 Source: Backgrounder on Federal Support for Health in Canada. March 29, 2000. Department of Finance. 2 Understanding Canada's Health Care Costs - Interim Report. Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health, June 2000. 3 One must keep in mind that once the tax point transfer occurred, they are part of the provinces own-source revenue structure. The tax points cannot be repatriated to the federal government. Furthermore, with the creation of the CHST cash floor, the relationship between the level of federal cash and tax points has been formally severed. 4 Iglehart J. Restoring the Status of An Icon: A Talk With Canada's Minister of Health. Health Affairs, Volume 19, Number 3, page 133. 5 Report of the Auditor-General of Canada. Chapter 29 Federal Support of Health Care Delivery, November, 1999. 6 Canadian Institute for Health Information. Health Care in Canada - A First Annual Report. 2000. 7 Kent T. What Should Be Done About Medicare. Caledon Institute of Social Policy, August 1, 2000. pp 3-4 8 Ibid, page 2. 9 Backgrounder on Federal Support for Health in Canada. Department of Finance, March 29, 2000. 10 Thomson A. Diminishing Expectations - Implications of the CHST. May, 1996. 11Beauchesne. Federal Surplus Soars. Ottawa Citizen, August 18, 2000. Through the first three months of the current fiscal year, the surplus stands at $8.2 billion - 42% higher than last year at the same time. Extrapolated over the full year, the surplus would be $32.8 billion. . McCarthy S. Ottawa May Have $74 Billion to Allocate. Globe and Mail, August 29, 2000. The article reports that the Ottawa should have a $44 billion surplus over the next five years even after allowing spending to rise by more than $3 billion a year to cover population growth and inflation and setting aside $3 billion annually for debt reduction. 12 Investing in New Approaches to Health Care. National Liberal Caucus Task Force on Health Care Sustainability. June 14, 2000. pp 3. 13Dammond KW, Prather RJ, Date VV, King CA. Computers in Biology and Medicine, Vol. 20, No. 4, pages 267-279, 1990, "A Provider-Interactive Medical Record Can Favorably Influence Costs and Quality of Medical Care."
Documents
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Allocation of health care resources

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy389
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC00-186
That the Canadian Medical Association work with its divisions and affiliates to determine and proclaim the values that should influence health care priority setting and allocation of health care resources in Canada.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC00-186
That the Canadian Medical Association work with its divisions and affiliates to determine and proclaim the values that should influence health care priority setting and allocation of health care resources in Canada.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association work with its divisions and affiliates to determine and proclaim the values that should influence health care priority setting and allocation of health care resources in Canada.
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Health care priorities

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy390
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-187
That the medical profession advocate to ensure that in establishing health care priorities the basic medical needs of all citizens, especially the vulnerable, are met.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-187
That the medical profession advocate to ensure that in establishing health care priorities the basic medical needs of all citizens, especially the vulnerable, are met.
Text
That the medical profession advocate to ensure that in establishing health care priorities the basic medical needs of all citizens, especially the vulnerable, are met.
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National health care goals

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy391
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-188
That the Canadian Medical Association develop a values-based process involving physicians, other health care providers, patient/citizen groups and federal/provincial/territorial governments to establish national health care goals and priorities.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-188
That the Canadian Medical Association develop a values-based process involving physicians, other health care providers, patient/citizen groups and federal/provincial/territorial governments to establish national health care goals and priorities.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association develop a values-based process involving physicians, other health care providers, patient/citizen groups and federal/provincial/territorial governments to establish national health care goals and priorities.
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National health insurance

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy392
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-189
That the federal government re-establish its moral authority to enforce the principles of national health insurance as embodied in the Canada Health Act by adequately funding the system on a long-term sustainable basis.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-189
That the federal government re-establish its moral authority to enforce the principles of national health insurance as embodied in the Canada Health Act by adequately funding the system on a long-term sustainable basis.
Text
That the federal government re-establish its moral authority to enforce the principles of national health insurance as embodied in the Canada Health Act by adequately funding the system on a long-term sustainable basis.
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Canada Health Act principles

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy393
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Resolution
GC00-190
That in the interpretation and application of the principles of the Canada Health Act, the Canadian Medical Association endorses the requirement for the inclusion of patient care objectives reflecting the need for available, quality, seamless, and timely service provision, as well as the inclusion of management objectives incorporating the notions of sustainability, accountability, equity and long-term planning.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Resolution
GC00-190
That in the interpretation and application of the principles of the Canada Health Act, the Canadian Medical Association endorses the requirement for the inclusion of patient care objectives reflecting the need for available, quality, seamless, and timely service provision, as well as the inclusion of management objectives incorporating the notions of sustainability, accountability, equity and long-term planning.
Text
That in the interpretation and application of the principles of the Canada Health Act, the Canadian Medical Association endorses the requirement for the inclusion of patient care objectives reflecting the need for available, quality, seamless, and timely service provision, as well as the inclusion of management objectives incorporating the notions of sustainability, accountability, equity and long-term planning.
Less detail

Collaborative development of a long-term vision for health care in Canada

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy396
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Resolution
GC00-193
That federal, provincial and territorial governments rise above their political differences to develop a long-term vision for health care in Canada in collaboration with the public, physicians and other health care stakeholders.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Resolution
GC00-193
That federal, provincial and territorial governments rise above their political differences to develop a long-term vision for health care in Canada in collaboration with the public, physicians and other health care stakeholders.
Text
That federal, provincial and territorial governments rise above their political differences to develop a long-term vision for health care in Canada in collaboration with the public, physicians and other health care stakeholders.
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CMA to work with federal government on sustainability of health care

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy397
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-194
That the Canadian Medical Association assist the federal government in leading a discussion to develop a collaborative strategy to ensure the sustainability of Canada's health care system.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-194
That the Canadian Medical Association assist the federal government in leading a discussion to develop a collaborative strategy to ensure the sustainability of Canada's health care system.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association assist the federal government in leading a discussion to develop a collaborative strategy to ensure the sustainability of Canada's health care system.
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Clinical care to incorporate evidence-based technological advances

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy399
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health information and e-health
Resolution
GC00-196
That federal, provincial and territorial governments respond to the health care needs of Canadians by ensuring the provision of clinical care that continually incorporates evidence-based technological advances in information, prevention, and diagnostic and therapeutic services.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health information and e-health
Resolution
GC00-196
That federal, provincial and territorial governments respond to the health care needs of Canadians by ensuring the provision of clinical care that continually incorporates evidence-based technological advances in information, prevention, and diagnostic and therapeutic services.
Text
That federal, provincial and territorial governments respond to the health care needs of Canadians by ensuring the provision of clinical care that continually incorporates evidence-based technological advances in information, prevention, and diagnostic and therapeutic services.
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Impact of health system reforms on primary and specialty care

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy400
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-197
That the Canadian Medical Association work with its Divisions and affiliates to assess the impact of health system reforms on the sustainability of primary and specialty care in Canada.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-197
That the Canadian Medical Association work with its Divisions and affiliates to assess the impact of health system reforms on the sustainability of primary and specialty care in Canada.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association work with its Divisions and affiliates to assess the impact of health system reforms on the sustainability of primary and specialty care in Canada.
Less detail

Publicly funded Medicare program

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy403
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-201
That the Canadian Medical Association develop a series of options, of greater and lesser intensity, for engaging the public in a dialogue concerning the future scope and financing of Canada's publicly funded Medicare program and assist the Divisions, in a manner to be determined by the Canadian Medical Association Board, in applying those options at the local level.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-201
That the Canadian Medical Association develop a series of options, of greater and lesser intensity, for engaging the public in a dialogue concerning the future scope and financing of Canada's publicly funded Medicare program and assist the Divisions, in a manner to be determined by the Canadian Medical Association Board, in applying those options at the local level.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association develop a series of options, of greater and lesser intensity, for engaging the public in a dialogue concerning the future scope and financing of Canada's publicly funded Medicare program and assist the Divisions, in a manner to be determined by the Canadian Medical Association Board, in applying those options at the local level.
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Improving health care system

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy404
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-202
That the federal, provincial and territorial governments work in partnership with the public, Canadian Medical Association, its divisions and affiliates and other health care stakeholders to continue to work to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the health care system.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-202
That the federal, provincial and territorial governments work in partnership with the public, Canadian Medical Association, its divisions and affiliates and other health care stakeholders to continue to work to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the health care system.
Text
That the federal, provincial and territorial governments work in partnership with the public, Canadian Medical Association, its divisions and affiliates and other health care stakeholders to continue to work to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the health care system.
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Public and private funding of health care.

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy406
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-204
That the federal, provincial and territorial governments, in close partnership with health care organizations (including the Canadian Medical Association and its Divisions and affiliates) and the public, initiate and maintain a process to promote full understanding of the respective roles and boundaries of the public and private sectors in the funding and delivery of health care.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-204
That the federal, provincial and territorial governments, in close partnership with health care organizations (including the Canadian Medical Association and its Divisions and affiliates) and the public, initiate and maintain a process to promote full understanding of the respective roles and boundaries of the public and private sectors in the funding and delivery of health care.
Text
That the federal, provincial and territorial governments, in close partnership with health care organizations (including the Canadian Medical Association and its Divisions and affiliates) and the public, initiate and maintain a process to promote full understanding of the respective roles and boundaries of the public and private sectors in the funding and delivery of health care.
Less detail

Insurance policy restrictions for mental, nervous and addictive disorders

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy414
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-220
That the Canadian Medical Association engage in a formal dialogue with the insurance industry and worker compensation organizations to discuss the burden on patients and health care providers of restrictive policy underwriting, enhanced claims scrutinizing and onerous assessment processes for mental, nervous and addictive disorders and seek solutions equitable to all parties.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-220
That the Canadian Medical Association engage in a formal dialogue with the insurance industry and worker compensation organizations to discuss the burden on patients and health care providers of restrictive policy underwriting, enhanced claims scrutinizing and onerous assessment processes for mental, nervous and addictive disorders and seek solutions equitable to all parties.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association engage in a formal dialogue with the insurance industry and worker compensation organizations to discuss the burden on patients and health care providers of restrictive policy underwriting, enhanced claims scrutinizing and onerous assessment processes for mental, nervous and addictive disorders and seek solutions equitable to all parties.
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The future of medicine

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy209
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2000-08-12
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2000-08-12
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
Text
The future of medicine In 1997 the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) embarked on a study of the future of medicine. Two premises guided this activity: (1) the pace of change in the practice of medicine that physicians experienced in the last quarter of the 20th century is bound to increase in the 21st century; and (2) it is essential that the medical profession position itself to influence future developments in medical practice. In order to prepare the profession to anticipate and meet the challenges of the future, the CMA is engaged in a medium- to long-term (5–20 years) planning exercise. This policy statement summarizes the results of the first part of this exercise: working definitions of health, health care and medicine; a vision for the future of the medical profession; and the implications of this vision for the roles of physicians. This work was conducted by an expert project advisory group, which developed background papers on these topics and prepared this statement for approval by the CMA Board of Directors. Definitions Health: is a state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. It is characterized in part by an absence of illness (a subjective experience) and disease (a pathological abnormality) that enables one to pursue major life goals and to function in personal, social and work contexts. Health care: is any activity that has as its primary objective the improvement, maintenance or support of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, as characterized by the absence of illness and disease. Medicine: is the art and science of healing. It is based on a body of knowledge, skills and practices concerned with the health and pathology of individuals and populations. The practice of medicine encompasses those health care activities that are performed by or under the direction of physicians in the service of patients, including health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, palliation, education and research. A vision for the future of the medical profession Medicine will continue to be a healing profession dedicated to serving humanity. Its cornerstone will continue to be the relationship of trust between the patient and the physician. It will uphold with integrity the values of respect for persons, compassion, beneficence and justice. It will strive for excellence and incorporate progress in its art and science. It will maintain high standards of ethics, clinical practice, education and research in order to serve patients. It will encourage the development of healthy communities and of practices and policies that promote the well-being of the public. It will demonstrate its capacity for societal responsibility through self-regulation and accountability. It will actively participate in decision-making regarding health and health care policy. It will guard against forces and events that may compromise its primary commitment to the well-being of patients. The roles of physicians in the future1 Although the vision and values of medicine are enduring and will remain stable, the practice environment of physicians will change as the medical profession responds to health system and societal influences. This in turn will have implications for the roles of physicians. The traditional role of physicians has been medical expert and healer. This has involved diagnosing and treating disease and other forms of illness, comforting those who cannot be cured and preventing illness through patient counselling and public-health measures. While this role will remain at the core of medical practice, the evolving context of health care requires physicians to assume additional roles to support their primary role. The CMA proposes the following roles as essential to the future practice of medicine (cf. Fig. 1 for their interrelationship). Although no physician will function in all roles simultaneously, they should all have the fundamental competencies to participate in each of these roles. -Medical expert and healer: Physicians have always been recognized for their role as medical expert and healer; it is the defining nature of their practice and derives from the broad knowledge base of medicine and its application through a combination of art and science. This is the foundation for continued physician leadership in the provision of medical and health care in the future. -Professional: There must be renewed efforts to reaffirm the principles of the medical profession, including upholding its unique body of knowledge and skills; maintenance of high standards of practice; and commitment to the underlying values of caring, service and compassion. The medical profession of the future must continue to develop standards of care with ongoing opportunities for continued assessment of competency in order to remain a credible, self-regulated discipline worthy of public respect and trust. -Communicator: Increasing emphasis will be placed upon the ability to gather and communicate medical information in a compassionate and caring fashion, to enter into a partnership with patients when organizing care plans and to provide important information through counselling and the promotion of health. As always, the patient–physician relationship will remain paramount, with its essential features of compassion, confidentiality, honesty and respect. -Scholar: Scholarship involves the creation of new knowledge (research), its uniform application (clinical practice) and its transfer to others (education). It is this strong association with the science of medicine and physicians’ willingness to embrace the scholarship of their practice that is closely linked to their roles of medical experts and professionals. -Collaborator: Health care services will increasingly be provided by interdisciplinary teams throughout the continuum of care from health promotion activities to the management of acute life-threatening disorders to the delivery of palliative care. In the role of collaborator, physicians recognize the essential functions of other health care workers and respect unique provider contributions in patient-centred health care delivery. -Advocate: As the health sector becomes increasingly complex and interdependent with other sectors of society, it will be essential for physicians to play a greater role as health advocates. This may pertain to advocacy for individual and family health promotion in the practice environment; it may also relate to the promotion of improved health at the broader community level. -Manager: In order to provide quality care, physicians of the future must be effective resource managers at the individual practice level, at the health care facility level and as part of the wider health care system. In order to fulfil these roles and participate in communities as integral members of society, physicians need to lead balanced lives. Physicians may sometimes experience conflicts among these roles. The CMA Code of Ethics specifies the basic principles of professional ethics for dealing with such conflicts. Conclusion The CMA has developed this vision for the future of medicine and the future roles of physicians to assist individual physicians and medical organizations to anticipate and prepare for the challenges of the next 20 years. The vision provides the profession with criteria for evaluating proposed changes in how medicine is practised and reaffirms the core values of medicine that must be upheld in whatever system emerges. The CMA invites other organizations, nonmedical as well as medical, to comment on the contents of this statement and its implications for health and health care. The CMA welcomes opportunities to dialogue with others on how the health care system can be improved for the benefit of future patients and society in general. 1The section is indebted to the work of the Educating Future Physicians for Ontario (EFPO) project supported by the Associated Medical Services group, the Ontario faculties of medicine and the Ontario Ministry of Health, and the Canadian Medical Education Directions for Specialists 2000 (CanMEDs 2000) project of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
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General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Canadian Health Care System : Submission to the Minister of International Trade

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1973
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2000-12-15
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2000-12-15
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
The method a country chooses to fund and deliver health care demonstrates the values of its citizens and the type of nation that they wish to live in. Canadians, through their elected representatives, have placed a high value on a single-payer, tax-financed health care system with a delivery system that is essentially private and not-for-profit. The principles providing the underpinnings of the system are embodied in the Canada Health Act (CHA) and include the following: universality, comprehensiveness, access, portability and public administration. Since the passing of the CHA, Canadians have grown increasingly passionate about these principles and have demonstrated time and again that these principles are in close alignment with their values. Canadians have chosen tax-based financing for their health care system as it relates to hospital and physician services. The provincial and federal governments, through federal government transfers such as equalization payments and the Canada Health and Social Transfer and through provincial taxation, fund the various organizations and health care providers that deliver health care. Therefore the financing of the health care system has been socialized and publicly administered as opposed to privatized through compulsory private insurance. This indicates that Canadians view health care as not just an ordinary good, such as an automobile or a house that they pay for based on their own financial resources, but as a good whose cost should be shared by the community on the basis of the ability to pay of individuals. For those two components that are most likely to create true financial hardship for families and individuals, hospital services and physician services, the overwhelming majority of the funding is from public sources as opposed to private sources. When it comes to the health services that are subject to the provisions of the CHA, namely hospital services and physicians' services, Canada has chosen a predominantly private delivery approach. Physicians are largely self-employed and operate within a private sector solo or group practice while community and teaching hospitals are largely private not-for-profit organizations. Most Canadian hospitals are governed by voluntary boards of trustees and are owned by voluntary organizations, municipal or provincial authorities or religious orders. 2.0 CANADIAN VALUES The evolution of Canada's health care system has been profoundly influenced by Canadian values and as a result so will its future. The Prime Minister's National Forum on Health produced a series of documents on Canada's health care system including analyses that delved into Canadian values regarding health care and Canada's health care system in particular. The following quotes are from Graves, Frank L. Beauchamp, Patrick, Herle, David, "Research on Canadian Values in Relation to Health and the Health Care System" Canada Health Action: Building on the Legacy, Papers Commissioned by the National Forum on Health, "Volume 5 - Making Decisions, Evidence and Information". These quotes exemplify the importance of health and the health care system in the hearts and minds of Canadians. "There is a broad consensus that the Canadian health care system is a collective accomplishment, a source of pride, and a symbol of core Canadian values. The values of equality, access, and compassion are salient to perceptions of the system and often held in contradistinction to perceptions of the American system. Moreover, the system is seen as relatively effective and sound. It may be the only area of current public endeavour which is seen as a clear success story." p. 352 "The public perceptions of problems in the health care system reflect many of the themes evident in broader concerns about government. One of these themes is a growing wariness of "expert" prescriptions for the health care system." p. 353 "This finding reconfirms a consistent conclusion of other research in this area - the gap between expert rationality and public values. It would be prudent to acknowledge the public's entrenched resistance to a purely economic mode on health care." p. 354 "A number of key conclusions are evident. First, people were generally loath to trade-off elements of the current system against the promise of better or fairer future performance." p. 355 "The public will be resistant to a rational discourse on these cost issues because they are more likely to see these issues in terms of higher-order values. The evidence suggests that further dialogue will tilt the debate more to values than economics. The public will insist on inclusion and influence in this crucial debate and they will reject elite and expert authority." p. 356 "In response to a question on how health care was different from other commodities and services sold in the marketplace, participants agreed that its main difference lies in the fact that it was directly related to "life and death"." p. 370 "Most simply did not want efficiency to be the driving force in health policy." p. 378 "The focus group discussions augmented the belief that health care is more about values than economics." p. 389 "Although other competing priorities emerged over the period of the discussion, it is equality of access that serves as the primary source of this pride. The "Canadian" values are wrapped up in equality of access - everybody gets relatively equal care when they are sick and nobody has to lose their house to pay their hospital or doctor bill. It is this feature of the system which is seen to most distinguish it from the American model (which is the point of comparison)." p. 393 "Many people readily acknowledge that their belief in egalitarianism is restricted to health care and that they are not troubled by wide discrepancies based on ability to pay or status in other areas of society. They have no trouble isolating health care in this way because they see health care as something of a completely different character than housing or automobiles or vacations." p. 393 "There is an overwhelming consensus among Canadians about the importance of equality of access as the defining characteristic of our system. That consensus is premised upon the assumption that quality is a given, as they have perceived it to be in the past." p. 395 "It is also true that, since Canadians recognize that a truly private system like the U.S. version might provide even greater levels or quality of freedom of choice to at least some citizens, they are choosing to sacrifice some of that from the system in order to provide equality of access to a universal system." p. 396 Clearly, Canadians value their health care system and the principles that it is based on. 3.0 IMPLICATIONS FOR TRADE LIBERALIZATION The core values that Canadians have expressed in relation to the health care system raise certain issues as to the impact of trade liberalization on those core values. Following is an analysis based on an examination of the various modes of trade. 3.1 Modes of Trade in Services The Uruguay Round of trade negotiations leading to the World Trade Organization's creation in 1995 classified services into 160 sectors. Health services are classified as a sector. In addition, trade in insurance services may affect health services where a market for health insurance exists. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) distinguishes among four modes of trade in services. Each is briefly described below, together with examples, (involving the mythic countries 'A' and 'B') from the health sector. [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Mode Example 1 Cross-border trade - provision of diagnosis or treatment planning services in country A by suppliers in country B, via telecommunications ('telemedicine') 2 Consumption abroad - movement of patients from country A to country B for treatment 3 Commercial presence - establishment of hospitals in country A whose owners are from country B, i.e. foreign direct investment 4 Presence of natural persons1 - service provision in country A by health professionals who have emigrated from country B [TABLE END] To date, Canada has made no commitments in the health services sector. Commitments in general have been shallow in the health sector in comparison to the most liberalized sectors, telecommunications and financial services, reflecting in part the substantial uncertainty about how such commitments will affect health care systems. Many of the countries that have undertaken health sector commitments have opted for enshrining the status quo, or even the status quo with commitments that include language proficiency requirements for health care professionals. Some WTO Members, however, have made more extensive commitments, driven in part by the hope that this will facilitate development of export opportunities and importation of foreign capital and know-how. Where developing countries have made such commitments, the general lack of resources appears to be a far more potent barrier to trade than the presence or absence of such commitments. 3.2 GATS and the Health System: Role of Insurance and Health System Structure To understand trade implications for the health sector, it may be helpful to distinguish between three functions that undergird all health systems: regulation/stewardship, financing, and service provision. Since the inception of Medicare, Canadians have received their health care through a system of private providers regulated under statutes. This links them closely to a financing system comprised largely of public funds in the form of general taxation revenues disbursed to health care providers by provincial and territorial governments and drawn from provincial and federal revenues through the progressive income tax system. The regulatory/stewardship established by the Canada Health Act and provincial regulation is pivotal to the system's structure. For example, building private hospitals need not be explicitly banned because funding levers make this a difficult business proposition as services provided there would not be automatically covered by provincially managed insurance schemes. A further useful distinction arises between input goods and services (drugs, devices, health care personnel, cleaning, laundry etc.) and the output of health care services. It is difficult to argue that the cleaning of hospitals is fundamentally part of the output of health services, rather it is similar to cleaning of other facilities and is increasingly performed by commercial entities in contractual relationships with health care facilities. These commercial entities include firms with foreign ownership or shareholders. Similarly many of the drugs and devices used in Canadian health care facilities are traded goods, moving in international trade from foreign-based suppliers and being accompanied by Canadian goods exported to other health care systems. Another input into the health care system is medical education. Physicians have to be trained so that Canadians have access to appropriate physician resources. There is some concern about the effects of GATS on the medical education enterprise and the quality of medical education currently delivered in Canada. As well, there is international recognition of Canada's expertise in medical education and evaluation and that this is a part of the health care system that Canada should be exporting. 4.0 RESPONDING TO GATS: POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS In responding to GATS, it is helpful to consider each of the four modes of trade in health services, current levels of trade, and how GATS liberalization, (i.e. commitments by the government of Canada) could impact Canada's health care system. Mode 1 - Cross-border supply Cross border supply of health services, where the provider (health care professional) and consumer (patient) are in different jurisdictions has recently moved from the realm of science fiction to reality with advances in telemedicine. However, certain services, particularly those involving direct patient contact (nursing, rehabilitation professionals) are unlikely to be provided, regardless of advances in telemedicine. Cross-border supply appears most relevant to services involving diagnosis and treatment planning. For example, a physician in Canada may digitize radiology films and send them for interpretation to a radiologist in the Caribbean or South Asia. Similarly, several experiments within Canada have attempted to use telediagnosis to spare families long trips from remote communities to consult with highly specialized paediatricians. If this were to occur across national borders with exchange of payment for services, it would constitute a form of international services trade. Current limits on telemedicine's growth are essentially no longer technological but rather the regulatory/stewardship issues of professional certification and payment systems for services rendered. A commitment under mode 1 would do nothing to address either of these questions, particularly the first as governments retain full authority to establish licensing and certification regimes for professionals. Within Canada, payment has been hampered by provincial insurance plan insistence that the doctor-patient encounter must occur in such a way that both are in the same physical space. At present, efforts have been directed to establishing cross-border recognition of professional accounting certification, fueled in large part by the concentration of accounting services work within a handful of multinational firms on behalf of their increasingly globalized clients. By contrast, similar efforts directed to social sector professions are unlikely given the atomistic nature of the professionals and the institutions and organizations where they work. The absence of a concerted desire for such cross-border recognition, coupled with the powerful role of governments in regulating not only certification but also numbers of health care professionals, suggests cross-border recognition will remain unlikely for the foreseeable future. That having been said, a commitment by Canada and other countries to mode 1 liberalization could increase pressure on licensing authorities to develop programs of cross-border recognition. If this were to happen the export of telemedicine services outside of Canada would represent physician resources that would not be available to Canadians. Given the physician workforce issues that Canada is presently facing such a commitment could exacerbate an already difficult position. In addition, there are other implications that would have to be determined through stakeholder consultation, for example: provider legal liability and malpractice insurance, patient privacy and confidentiality of medical records to name a few. Mode 2 - Consumption abroad Individual Canadians have long sought care in other jurisdictions, most notably the United States. This is typically paid for from private health insurance or out of pocket funds. Changes to provincial insurance reimbursement for out-of-country care have dramatically limited publicly funded consumption abroad by Canadians. Two exceptions to this are treatment for specific rare conditions and, in several provinces, contracting for radiation therapy services with American institutions. Liberalization under mode 2 would do little for Canada in affecting the outward flow of Canadian patients to the US given the ease with which Canadians can cross the Canada-US border to purchase medical care. Similarly, opportunities for Canadian professionals and facilities to attract additional foreign patients are unlikely to grow substantially should a mode 2 commitment be made. The obvious growth potential for Canadian physicians and facilities lies in the USA but has been substantially limited by two synergistic factors. First is the non-portability of insurance coverage, both publicly financed Medicare/Medicaid benefits and most market-purchased insurance. Exclusion from health maintenance organizations' (HMOs) networks of providers are a further impediment for Canadian providers seeking to attract American consumers. Should the United States be willing to commit to the generalized portability of Medicare benefits, Canada would be a logical destination for American consumers seeking care, but that would be contingent on a commitment from the United States or other action regarding portability, rather than a specific mode 2 commitment by Canada. Commitments in this direction may, however, only be made if similar commitments are made by potential trading partners for health services, notably Canada and Mexico. A commitment by Canada and other countries, especially the United States, to mode 2 liberalization could change the business plans or strategies to attract foreign patients by some physicians especially certain niche subspecialists. Such a change could result in access difficulties for Canadian patients as providers substitute higher-paying foreign patients for Canadian ones for which payment is fixed by provincial insurance plans. Mode 3 - Commercial presence Commercial presence, usually through foreign direct investment (FDI), is often necessary for providing services such as banking or supply chain management. FDI in Canada's health service sector is relatively insignificant and that would appear unlikely to change with a mode 3 commitment. As with several of the other modes of trade, the regulatory and stewardship environment creates structural impediments to FDI, specifically concerning which services will be paid for in which facilities, that a mode 3 commitment is unlikely to remove. A related area for the health system is that of consulting services, where multinational, foreign-origin firms already play a substantial role in providing various forms of management consulting services. While some hospital boards are reported to have been approached regarding the outsourcing of their management to foreign management services firms, the extent of implementation to date has been minimal. Should hospital management be outsourced in this way or hospital facilities networked through supra-facility organizations, American based firms are logical candidates for such work and can be expected to bring with them substantial experience in shaping and constraining physician decision-making, particularly around access to expensive procedures. Mode 3 commitments are arguably neither necessary nor sufficient for such a change in hospital governance and management when compared to the power of provincial government regulation and financing mechanisms. If Canada made a mode 3 commitment, provincial governments would still have substantial latitude to regulate financing and provision of services, so long as these regulations applied to all potential suppliers, regardless of country of origin, thus ensuring national treatment. However, the full ramifications of such a commitment remain largely unknown and there appears little to be gained by Canada in making such commitments. Mode 4 - Presence of natural persons Presence of natural persons, specifically physicians and other health professionals, is one of the most pressing issues in health systems around the world. For countries like South Africa, emigration of physicians hamstrings efforts to deliver health services. For parts of Canada, immigration of those physicians has been essential to providing Canadians with health care, particularly in rural and remote areas. Nevertheless, mode 4 commitments are unlikely to be particularly useful for health human resource planning. For destination countries like Canada, a mode 4 commitment to liberalize immigration of natural persons, specifically health sector professionals, does not bind that country to forego national systems of certification and licensure. Moreover, existing systems of visas and work authorizations offer far more effective control over inflows than would a mode 4 commitment. Similarly, Canadian physicians who wish to emigrate, typically to the US, do so in the absence of a Mode 4 commitment by either country. Of concern to Canadians is the increased recognition of physician shortages as demonstrated by the fact that several provinces have increased medical school enrolment. Therefore any measures that would make it easier for physicians and other health care professionals to leave Canada and to practice elsewhere, especially the United States, could exacerbate an already tight supply of human health resources in several provinces. After a decade of efforts to reduce the number of physicians in Canada, assessments of Canadian physician supply are increasingly identifying shortages or, at the very least, chronic undersupply, in rural areas. Substantial numbers of foreign-trained physicians already reside in Canada but are unable to practice due to some combination of limited language skills, insufficient training, or 'queuing' for the various transition requirements imposed on international medical graduates (IMGs) by provincial licensing authorities. Commitments by Canada in this area however could result in pressure on licensing authorities to modify their requirements with potential implications on quality of care. Again, there is little to be gained for Canada to pursue commitments in this area until the ramifications are fully explored. Additional Considerations: Two areas that are to be explored are: 1) cross-sectoral horse trading, and 2) equity perceptions. 'Cross-sectional horse trading' refers to countries offering commitments in one sector in return for commitments in other, unrelated sectors. As an example, Canada may wish to increase its access to foreign markets for financial or telecommunications services and face the choice of putting the health services sector 'into play' as part of negotiating on matters unrelated to health services. This would be potentially disastrous if Canada were to undertake specific health services commitments in the rush to secure benefits in other sectors without attention to the federal-provincial cooperation and coordination to ensure that such commitments did not undermine the foundations of Canada's health system. Such cooperation and coordination appears to be becoming increasingly difficult and the pressure of a GATS commitment perceived to be negotiated by persons outside the health sector and health ministry would seem a surefire way to increase that difficulty. The second issue, equity perceptions, arises from the confluence of increasing concern among Canadians about access to their health care system and the likely additional concern that would arise if Canadian physicians were perceived to be favouring foreign patients over Canadian patients. The clearest example of access concerns to date is likely that of ophthalmology services where the opportunities for these specialists to provide non-insured laser treatment to American citizens may have reduced the services available to provincially insured Canadians. Non-insured care, whether for Canadians or foreign patients is a growing part of physician revenues, but pushing for its expansion through a mode 2 commitment under GATS appears unlikely to generate benefits sufficient to offset the potential negatives when compared with other methods of expanding revenue from non-insured services. 5.0 CONCLUSION The Government of Canada's bargaining position regarding health services in relation to the ongoing liberalization of trade in health services through the GATS will evolve from an assessment of the opportunities and costs associated with various levels of commitment. A major factor in the equation are the values of Canadians and their affinity for the publicly funded health care system. 6.0 RECOMMENDATION "The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) recognizes that trade liberalization can have positive economic impacts on the Canadian economy, however the type of healthcare system that Canadians and health care providers want is of primary concern whereas the goals of trade liberalization in health services is of a secondary nature. Recognizing that the GATS process is an on-going and long-term approach to trade liberalization, the CMA recommends that the Federal government undertake extensive consultative sessions with the Canadian public and healthcare providers. Such a consultation process would help answer questions as to the implications of trade liberalization and would provide feedback as to what level of trade liberalization in health care services is consistent with Canadian values." 1 Mode 4: "Presence of 1Natural Persons" - this covers the conditions under which a service supplier can travel in person to a country in order to supply a service. Source: http://gats-info.eu.int/gats-info/gatscomm.pl?MENU=hhh
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Guidelines for assessing health care system performance

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy218
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2000-08-12
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2000-08-12
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
Guidelines for Assessing Health Care System Performance July 2000 In recent years, Canadians have expressed a loss of confidence in the ability of the health care system to meet their needs. At the same time, governments, health professionals, patients and the public are demanding greater accountability from the system and those responsible for how it currently functions. Attempts to respond to these concerns have highlighted the fact that the development and evolution of the system have not been based on assessment of performance or outcome measurements. Through proper assessment, the capacity and performance of the health care system can be evaluated to identify opportunities for improvements in quality of care, health outcomes or both. These improvements should be based on sound decision-making using the best available information. The following guidelines have been created by the CMA in consultation with a broad group of stakeholders to serve as guiding principles for those involved in the establishment and ongoing development of health care system performance processes. 1) Recognizing that the ultimate goal of the health care system is to improve health, assessment of the system's performance and capacity must address structure, process and outcomes in the following domains: clinical services; governance; management; finances; human, intellectual and physical capital; and stakeholder perception and satisfaction. 2) Assessment of health care system performance must be comprehensive throughout the continuum of care at all levels(f1) and involving all activities related to providing care. 3) The issues of privacy and confidentiality of patient information must be addressed at all levels as outlined in the Principles for the Protection of Patients' Personal Health Information. 4) Assessment of health care system performance must enhance accountability (f2) among administrators, patients, payers, providers and the public. 5) Assessing the performance of the health care system requires information that is reliable, valid, complete, comprehensive and timely. The information used for the purpose of assessing health care system performance must be continually evaluated and audited in a transparent process. 6) An independent group (f3) (f4) working with an advisory body (or bodies) composed of representative stakeholders should be responsible for overseeing the definition, collection and custodianship of data and the interpretation and dissemination of health care system performance assessment. 7) The advisory body (or bodies) must rely on the best available evidence, which may include or be limited to expert opinion in the areas of data definition and collection, privacy, analysis and interpretation (f5) in assessment of health care system performance. 8) In the assessment of health care system performance, and in particular with respect to the interpretation of information, the advisory body (or bodies) should place heavy emphasis on the viewpoints of relevant peer groups. 9) The processes of data collection, analysis, interpretation and communication to administrators, patients, payers, providers and the public should be systematic and ongoing. 10) The process of assessing health care system performance should be evaluated on an ongoing basis to determine whether it is achieving the desired effects on quality of care and health outcomes. (Footnotes) 1-Provider, institutional, regional, provincial and national levels. 2-Accountability entails the procedures and processes by which one party justifies and takes responsibility for its activities (Emanuel EJ, Emanuel LL. What is accountability in health care? Ann Intern Med 1996;124:229). 3-Without ownership or equity in the group being evaluated and without financial incentives related to the content of the evaluation. 4-Chosen through a transparent process. 5-Must include consideration of relevant legislation and regulations.
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Getting the Diagnosis Right… Toward a Sustainable Future for Canadian Health Care Policy (Part One of a two-part brief to the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada)

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1970
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2001-10-31
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
  2 documents  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2001-10-31
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) welcomes this opportunity to provide a perspective to the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada on behalf of our 50,000 physician members, provincial/territorial divisions and affiliated medical organizations. Canada’s doctors are literally at the coal face of the health care system. Collectively each year our physicians, including licensed physicians, post graduate trainees and medical students have at least one, and often several face-to-face interactions with at least 80% of Canadians. Moreover, on a daily basis we interact with a wide range of other health professionals and agencies. The striking of the Commission has come at a cross-roads in the evolution of our national health care program. We face a faltering health care system, characterized by no long-term vision or systematic plan. There is a lack of common purpose among the stakeholders, waning public confidence and extremely low provider morale. If we do not act immediately to address these key areas, we will very soon lose the underpinnings of social support for the publicly funded health care system. This brief is the first of two parts. In medicine it has long been accepted that the key to a successful treatment is to first get the diagnosis right. In Part One we will focus on the “signs and symptoms” leading to a diagnosis and also outline some of the broad pathways to stabilizing our traumatized health care system. In Part Two, which will be completed in the spring of 2002, we will put forward recommended treatments. The overall theme is that we cannot manage our way out via increased efficiency gains alone. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A “TRAUMATIZED PATIENT” As a result of the relentless cost-cutting of the 1990s, we are now in the midst of a crisis of sustainability that has at least five dimensions: Crisis of Access – For those of us who spend increasing amounts of time each day trying to secure diagnostic and treatment resources for our patients, it is clear that we are in a deepening crisis of access to people, to technology, and to the surrounding infrastructure. What were once routine and timely referrals and treatments are now unacceptably long waits for all but the most urgent care. Crisis of Provider Morale – The morale of physicians, nurses and other providers in the system is at an all-time low. Physicians are working harder than ever, with fatigue and burnout becoming more commonplace. We are increasingly frustrated by the growing effort and time required to secure resources for our patients. Moreover, physicians have been largely marginalized in decision making at a system level as a result of the reforms of the 1990s. Crisis of Public Confidence – While Canadians continue to report high satisfaction with the health care they receive, they have lost confidence that the system will be there for them in the future. At the same time, they are being barraged through multiple media about the promise of revolutionary technology that is fueling their expectations about what we as physicians and the health care system are able to provide for them. Crisis of Health System Financing – While the federal government had been paring back its contributions to Medicare since the late 1970s, this was greatly intensified in the mid-1990s and only recently has begun to reverse itself. Health care spending is projected to exceed 40% of provincial/territorial government revenues in the not too distant future. Demographics and technology will continue to put upward pressure on costs. We believe that the top-down supply side management approach to cost containment has been a resounding failure. Crisis of Accountability – There is a growing problem of accountability at several levels. There continues to be bickering between the federal and provincial/territorial governments – is the federal share of Medicare 11% or 34%? At the provincial/territorial level, accountability has been pushed down to regional health authorities while authority continues to be held by the central health ministry. Proposals for reform have targeted providers for increased accountability but have ignored consumers as patients. We believe that the health care system and those of us who work in it have been seriously traumatized. We believe that these five signs and symptoms will only grow worse in the years ahead unless there is concentrated and timely action. PATHWAYS TO STABILIZING THE TRAUMATIZED PATIENT While we are not ready to put forward specific recommended treatments at this time, we would suggest that there are five “pathways” that will help guide the Commission’s work on the stabilization and recovery of this trauma. Focus on the “Hows”, not just the “Whats” – The health reform discussions of the 1990s in Canada have been dominated by the “whats” rather than the “hows”. When the “how” was considered at all, governments generally approached reform with a “big bang” approach. International experts have recognized that this is very unlikely to be successful when there are many stakeholders in a plurality of settings—which is certainly an apt depiction of the Canadian health care landscape. There is a clear need for a collaborative approach to “change management” that is based on early, ongoing and meaningful involvement of all key stakeholders. Adopt a Values-Based Approach to Change – We believe that Canadian Medicare has been largely well-served by its values-based approach, as expressed in the five program criteria of the Canada Health Act. We believe that a modernized Medicare program must continue to be underpinned by basic values such as universality and expressed through national principles. In particular, as physicians, we believe it is fundamental that we must continue to be agents of our patients and moreover that we must continue to uphold the principles of choice between patients and physicians. Striking a Better Balance Between Everything and Everyone – As we contemplate what a vision of Medicare for tomorrow might include we must be mindful that no country in the world has been able to pay for first dollar coverage for timely access to all health services. In light of the rapidly transforming delivery system with a shift from institutional to community-based care, a re-examination of the Medicare “basket” is overdue. Generate New Thinking – The new millennium requires new thinking. We have become complacent about Medicare. We are unlikely to find durable answers as long as discussions are bound by the current scope of application and interpretation of the five principles of the Canada Health Act. We need to reflect on the discussions among provincial/territorial premiers over the past few years and on international experience in order to gain an appreciation of the new consensus that may be emerging. Canada can and must learn from the experience of other countries that have already been forced to deal with, for example, the demographic shifts that Canada is about to encounter. We also need new thinking about the evolving context of the delivery of care in the age of the Internet and the new generation of both consumers and providers. Recognize That Better Management (while necessary) Will Not Be Sufficient – We do not believe that we can simply manage our way out of this crisis. Physicians have supported, indeed led, many innovations such as the implementation of clinical practice guidelines and have participated in primary care reform demonstration projects. Improved efficiency alone, however, cannot meet the demands we expect to see in the future. The system must be properly resourced on a predictable basis. NEXT STEPS… There is no “magic bullet” or quick fix that will put our national health program on a sustainable footing and restore Canadians’ confidence in it. Working harder to make the current system work better will not be sufficient. While there are still gains to be made from efficiencies and integration, we cannot simply manage our way out of this problem. It is time for fundamental change. We should not be discouraged from pressing on with this daunting challenge; it is imperative that we begin to act immediately. This brief sets out the variety of pressures that render the current health system unsustainable. It also sets out a value-based policy framework that can help guide future deliberations and point us to policies that can help address the rising concerns among both providers and Canadian health consumers. The brief is not intended to be all-encompassing. Various other medical organizations will be making representations to the Commission. The CMA encourages the Commission to seriously consider the complementary briefs submitted by our sister organizations. The CMA intends to submit its final recommendations, building on this framework, in the spring of 2002. This second brief will again be the product of our extensive set of discussions with the profession. INTRODUCTION The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) welcomes this opportunity to provide a perspective to the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada on behalf of our 50,000 physician members, provincial/territorial divisions and affiliated medical organizations. Canada’s doctors are literally at the coal face of the health care system. Collectively each year our physicians, including licensed physicians, post graduate trainees and medical students have at least one, and often several face-to-face interactions with at least 80% of Canadians. Moreover, on a daily basis we interact with a wide range of other health professionals and agencies. The striking of the Commission has come at a cross-roads in the evolution of our national health care program. We face a faltering health care system, characterized by no long-term vision or systematic plan. There is a lack of common purpose among the stakeholders, waning public confidence and extremely low provider morale. If we do not act immediately to address these key areas, we will very soon lose the underpinnings of social support for the publicly funded health care system. This brief is the first of two parts. In medicine it has long been accepted that the key to a successful treatment is to first get the diagnosis right. In Part One we will focus on the “signs and symptoms” leading to a diagnosis and also outline some of the broad pathways to stabilizing our traumatized health care system. In Part Two, which will be completed in the Spring of 2002, we will put forward recommended treatments. The development of this brief has been guided by the policy debates within the CMA over the past few years , including those at General Council in 1994 to 1998 and 2001, and by current deliberations with our Divisions and Affiliates. It has also been informed by the results of a series of Public Dialogue Sessions that were held across Canada in May/June 2001 and a National Report Card Survey that was conducted in late June 2001. The overall message of this initial submission is that working harder to make the current system work better, while necessary, is not sufficient. While there are still gains to be made from efficiencies and integration, we cannot simply manage our way out of this problem. It is time for fundamental change. Changes must focus, first and foremost, on restoring public confidence and provider morale. They should focus on care and speak to individuals and their needs, rather than being dispassionate at a systems level analysis. As a society, Canadians need a new consensus on the fundamentals of our health and health care system. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A “TRAUMATIZED PATIENT” 1. CRISIS OF ACCESS—ACCESSIBILITY MEANS NOTHING WITHOUT AVAILABILITY Access is a critical dimension of quality care. We are facing a growing crisis of access to timely health care with human, technological and physical infrastructure dimensions. As a result, the ability to provide quality care is suffering. The Health Workforce While we believe that the health workforce in general is facing a major sustainability challenge, we will focus our discussion on the physician workforce, with which we are most familiar. For most of the past decade, governments have acted on advice that Canada has too many physicians. Ministers of Health met in Banff in January 1992 to discuss the 1991 Barer-Stoddart report Toward Integrated Medical Resource Policies for Canada. 1 Out of the comprehensive set of 53 recommendations in this report, the Ministers clearly “cherry-picked” the one recommendation with a number attached to it – namely the 10% cut in enrolment that was implemented in the Fall of 1993. A year later governments began proposing/introducing a range of punitive measures to promote distribution objectives. Probably the most extreme of these was a proposal by the Ontario government in April of 1993 to discount by 75% the fees of what would have been the majority of new family physicians, paediatricians and psychiatrists. 2 Undergraduate medical school enrolment was already on the decline when the 10% cut was implemented, so the overall reduction translated into 16% fewer positions by 1997/98 than in 1983/84. Opportunities for young Canadians to enter medical school (relative to the population) decreased at an even greater rate. First year enrolment peaked in 1980 with 1 student per 13,000 citizens but by 1998 this had fallen to 1 per 20,000 (compared to 1 per 12,000 in the UK for example). While there was no decrease in the number of postgraduate new entry positions, re-entry opportunities were less plentiful and fell from 663 positions in 1992 to 152 by 1998. 3 Against this backdrop one should scarcely wonder why the number of physicians leaving Canada doubled between 1989 and 1994 (384 to 777). Since 1994, the outflow has abated somewhat to just over 400 in 1999. During 1998 and 1999 the number of physicians returning from abroad increased, thus the net loss was reduced to just under 250 physicians in each of those 2 years. In 2000, owing to a significant drop in the number of physicians leaving, the net loss dropped to 164. Nonetheless this is still equivalent to more than 1.5 graduating medical classes. 4 Over the 12 year period from 1989 – 2000, the net loss of physicians to emigration was almost 4,000. While long term planning is a key element of other large public enterprises in Canada, the same cannot be said for the health workforce. One of the ten core principles of the United Kingdom National Health Services reads “the NHS will support and value its staff”. An application of this principle may be seen in a recent UK strategy document for the scientists, engineers and technologists working in healthcare science. This 3-point strategy covers pay and career opportunities, working conditions and recruitment. 5 We would suggest that such a consideration has been largely absent from Canadian health policy over the past decade, certainly at a national level and most probably at the provincial/territorial level. The health workforce received scant attention by the National Forum on Health. The Provincial/Territorial Health Ministers’ 1997 Renewed Vision for Canada’s Health System makes only incidental mention of the health workforce. 6 These examples suggest that the health workforce has largely been taken for granted. By comparison, during the past decade, no fewer than three task forces have been struck to address the renewal of the federal public service. (Public Service 2000, La Relève and the 2001 Task Force on Modernizing Human Resources Management in the Public Service ). 7 We are now paying the price for this neglect. If we are to continue to maintain health care as a public enterprise in Canada, we believe that there needs to be a high level policy acknowledgement of the value of and commitment to the enhancement and renewal of the health workforce. A recent national consultation on research priorities for health services and policy issues reported that “health human resources was seen as the dominant issue for the next two to five years by policy makers, managers, and clinical organizations. The concerns of policy makers included regulatory frameworks, mechanisms for avoiding cycles of surplus/shortage, and the leadership vacuum within management and policy-making organizations.” 8 There are some signs that governments have belatedly begun to acknowledge that we are in a shortage situation. In November 1999, the Canadian Medical Forum presented the report of its Task Force on Physician Supply (Task Force One) at a meeting hosted by the co-chairs of the Confererence of Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health. One of the key recommendations of the report called for an increase to 2000 first year medical school places for 2000.3 Since that time several provinces have announced increases in undergraduate enrolment and postgraduate training. As of July 2001, these increases numbered 353 undergraduate, 153 postgraduate and 37 re-entry (specialty) training positions. 9 However, these increases will not begin to have an appreciable impact for a minimum of five to six years. Another key recommendation, calling for efforts to repatriate Canadian physicians practising abroad and which would have a more immediate payoff has received no attention that we can discern. While these enrolment increases are most welcome, they highlight another problem, namely the steep increases in medical tuition and the prospect of tuition deregulation. Already there are reports of cumulative debt loads from undergraduate and medical education that may exceed $100,000. If this upward trend continues, we fear that this might not only re-ignite an exodus of physicians to the U.S. (where loans may be repaid more quickly), but that access to medical education may be restricted to only the most advantaged Canadians. Indeed a 1999 study 10 at one Ontario medical school found that the median family income of the 1st year intake class following a large tuition increase was significantly higher than the 2nd and higher year classes. A further challenge that is posed by the enrolment increases is in the capacity of the 16 Academic Health Sciences Centres (AHSCs) to provide undergraduate medical education and post-graduate training. There is a tendency to overlook the fact that AHSCs have a threefold mission; to provide teaching, to conduct original research, and to provide all levels of care for the surrounding population and highly specialized care for outlying regions. As the site of training moves increasingly out to the community, it will become necessary to recruit even more teachers from a pool of physicians who are only barely able to cope with their existing workloads. With few exceptions the resources required to fund the expansion of medical education to the community have not been forthcoming. Another development is that Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) is in the process of initiating several sectoral studies in health including home care, natural products, nursing, oral health care, pharmacists and physicians. 11 The Canadian Medical Forum, made up of the major national Canadian medical organizations, together with others will be working with HRDC and Health Canada to implement the physician sector study over the next few years. Again, these studies will not produce any short term payoffs toward alleviating the immediate and growing shortages of physicians and other health providers. Looking to the decades ahead we know that the demographic composition of the profession is going to change markedly. Women now represent more than 50% of our graduating medical classes, and while at present they represent 29% of the practising physician population, by 2021 this is expected to reach 44%. The medical profession is also aging. As of 2001 some 27% of physicians are aged 55 and over; by 2021 this proportion will be 37%. Given the historical (and continued) gap of some eight hours per week between the average work week of male and female physicians, there will be a major challenge in sustaining the volume of service required to meet the needs of our aging population. Information Technology in Service of Health The health care system operates within an information intensive environment. However, to date, a substantial portion of the data being collected is gleaned as a derivative of administrative or billing/financial systems. Although this provides useful information for arriving at a “high level” view of the operation of the health care system, it is generally of limited value to health care providers at the interface with their patients. A detailed costing study prepared by PriceWaterhouse Coopers for the CMA in 2000 estimated the cost of connecting all delivery points in the Canadian health care system at $4.1 billion. The $500 million announced in the September 2000 Health Accord is only a modest start. Health care providers require access to a secure and portable electronic health record (EHR) that provides details of all health services provided to their patient as well as the appropriate decision support tools. An EHR that meets the clinical needs of health care providers when interacting with their patients will serve to benefit not only the health of Canadians, but the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system. 12 A critical aspect of the EHR that remains to be addressed is that of privacy. While the Personal Information Privacy and Electronic Document Act is due to come into force for health information in 2002, the privacy protection afforded to patient and provider interactions is not at all clearly defined. The CMA has ongoing serious concerns about the lack of clarity in the Act. These concerns have recently been exacerbated by a decision of the federal Privacy Commissioner to deem physician information as “professional” rather than personal, thereby making confidential information more accessible. This will not make it any easier for Canadian physicians to embrace information technology in service of health. Capital Infrastructure Much of our current infrastructure dates back to the early days of Medicare—forty years ago. In order to provide necessary health services, the health care system must be supported by adequate infrastructure. However, public investment in this area has declined substantially since the late 1980s with the first wave of health care reform initiatives. For example, from 1986-87 to 1993-94, the number of approved public hospital beds decreased by 2.8% annually, and in 1994-95 the decline increased to 7.2% annually after the introduction of the CHST. In total, over this period the number of approved public hospital beds decreased by 36.1%. 13 While the trend in shorter inpatient days, and therefore an increase in outpatient care, has mitigated the problem of a bed shortage somewhat, there is a need to monitor readmission rates on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, the question of whether Canada has an adequate supply of acute care beds for those who require inpatient care must be addressed. We would also add that this has resulted in considerable offloading to the community in the area of primary care, community based services and informal caregivers without any transfer or infusion of resources to support the community’s efforts. Further evidence of the disinvestment in health care infrastructure can be seen in the areas of building construction, machinery and equipment. The following considers expenditures in terms of constant 1992 dollars so that levels are adjusted for inflation. Real per capita capital health expenditures by provincial governments have declined by 16.5% from its 1989 peak at over $63. In terms of new building construction by hospitals, between 1982 and 1998 real per capita expenditures decreased by 5.3% annually. Finally, real investment in new machinery and equipment in the hospital sector has declined annually by 1.8% since 1989. 13 2. CRISIS OF PROVIDER MORALE We are concerned that this telling comment, written by a physician respondent in the CMA’s 2001 Physician Resource Questionnaire (PRQ), reflects the mood of many physicians in Canada today. [BOX CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] [BOX END] Canada’s physicians are working harder than ever. According to the 2001 PRQ survey the average work week of a physician is 53.4 hours (not including call). The bulk of this is taken up with direct patient care (35 hours). The remainder is occupied by activities such as indirect patient care, teaching, research, and education. The physician’s work week does not end there. Again according to the PRQ, three out of four physicians (74%) report taking shared call for their patients out of hours and those who do report an average of 144 hours (six 24-hour days) per month, during which their activities are constrained to a significant degree. It is no surprise that more than one out of two (54%) respondents to the 2001 PRQ reported that their workload had increased over the past 12 months, while fewer than one out of ten (9%) reported a decrease. In every age group, physicians were likely to report that their workloads are heavier than they would like – in terms of potentially compromising their ability to provide high quality care to their patients – rising from 53% among those less than 35 years of age to roughly 70% of those in the 35-54 age group, and then declining to 64% among those aged 55-64 and 37% among those 65 and over. 14 There are at least three main contributing factors to the crisis of physician morale. The first has been the aforementioned blunt and coercive measures made by governments in the early 1990s to curtail physician numbers and manage distribution. Planning requires taking a longer term view and resisting the temptation to “cherry pick” for short term relief. A second facet of practice life that has become increasingly burdensome for patients and providers is the increasing amount of time that it takes to arrange for referrals, tests and treatments for our patients. In urgent or life-threatening situations, care is being provided. However, about two thirds or 64% of respondents to the 2001 PRQ reported difficulty in obtaining appropriate resources on behalf of their patients. The difficulty that Canadian physicians experience in accessing resources on behalf of their patients is further illustrated by the results of a survey conducted by the firm of Harris Interactive, in which physicians were surveyed in 2000 in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. Data from this study show that high proportions of Canadian physicians report problems with access to care in their practices, particularly when compared to their U.S. colleagues. While Canadian and U.K. physicians report similar levels of problems, there are dramatic differences between Canada and the U.S. For example, Canadian physicians are almost eight times more likely to report problems with access to the latest medical and diagnostic equipment than their U.S. colleagues (63% vs. 8%). Similarly, 61% of Canadian physicians reported problems of availability of medical specialists and consultants, compared with 13% of U.S. physicians, while 66% of Canadian physicians reported major problems with long waiting times for surgical or hospital care compared with just 7% of U.S. physicians 15. This is an avoidable cause of stress on the physician-patient relationship. Third, when regionalization was implemented during the 1990s, physicians and other providers were generally marginalized in the process. Indeed, in several provinces, health providers were expressly prohibited from serving on regional boards. An early indication of this was gained in the CMA’s 1995 Physician Resource Questionnaire. Only 10% of respondents agreed that physicians had been involved or consulted in the implementation of regionalization in their region, and just 21% agreed that the medical profession had any ongoing input. While we have not surveyed our members recently on this, we have little reason to believe that there has been significant change. The crisis of morale is by no means confined to physicians. The authors of a recent policy synthesis on the benefits of a healthy workplace for nurses, their patients and the system declared that “the Canadian healthcare system is facing a nursing shortage that threatens patient care. Many nurses, physically and mentally exhausted, quit; employers cannot fill those vacancies, while paradoxically other nurses cannot find secure jobs with hours that suit them. Meanwhile, nursing schools cannot keep up with the demand for new recruits.” 16 3. CRISIS OF PUBLIC CONFIDENCE The observation quoted here was made by one of the physician moderators at the CMA’s 2001 Public Dialogue Sessions. 17 We believe that, if anything it understates the perilous state of Canadians’ confidence in our health care system. [BOX CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] [BOX END] The precipitous decline in Canadians’ assessment of our health care system has been tracked by the Ipsos-Reid polling firm over the 1990s. While in May 1991, 61% of Canadians rated our health care system as excellent or good, by January 2000 this has declined to just 26%. 18 We found further evidence of the dimensions of this concern in the first CMA National Report Card on Health Care Survey, which was carried out on our behalf by Ipsos-Reid in the summer of 2001. In terms of an overall rating, just 21% of Canadians gave the system an “A” grade, 44% “B”, 26% “C”, and 9% “D”. While the report card confirms previous findings that those who have used the system are generally satisfied (30% “A”, 38% “B”) the ratings of access to most health care services are distressing (Figure 1). While access to family physicians receives an “A” rating, the ratings of most specialized services are dismal. Just 15% of Canadians rate access to medical specialists as “A”, while 22% assign it a failing “F” grade. 19 [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] [TABLE END] Similarly, our Public Dialogue Sessions from the summer made it clear that Canadians believe that the quality of health services has declined in Canada and many fear that it will get worse before it gets better. Six out of ten Canadians (64%) reported that the overall quality of health care services in their community had deteriorated over the past 10-15 years. Looking ahead, 37% of Canadians expect health services to be worse in five years, outnumbering the 30% who think they will get better. As one of our Public Dialogue participants put it this summer, “It will get worse—nursing homes have long waiting lists. Hospital beds are plugged up with people waiting to get into nursing homes. With our aging population—it’s only going to get worse.” 17 Although we do not have much quantitative evidence yet, we believe that patient expectations will continue to increase, as Canadians are bombarded by news of promising new developments through multiple channels. The growth of health information on the Internet has been a chief contributor to this. In the CMA’s 2000 PRQ survey, 84% of physicians reported that patients had at least occasionally presented medical information to them that they had found on the Internet. 20 Also worrisome is the vast array of sources of medical information that can be found on the world wide web – information that is not always from credible sources nor based on scientific evidence. In summary, we are deeply concerned that Canadians’ confidence in our system is hovering at a level that threatens the sustainability of the social consensus that underlies our current Medicare program. Clearly this must be addressed before we attempt to strike a new one. 4. CRISIS OF HEALTH SYSTEM FINANCING When Tommy Douglas’ government implemented Medicare in Saskatchewan in 1962, he said at the time, “all we want to do is pay the bills”. It was not too long after Medicare was implemented nationally in 1971, however, that governments started thinking about ways of controlling costs, and before the decade was out, under the Established Programs Financing (EPF) arrangements, 50:50 cost sharing had been replaced by a combination of tax points and cash contributions linked to economic growth. Clearly, policy thinking has been dominated by top-down supply side management for the past two decades. In a commentary on Justice Emmett Hall’s second (1980) report, noted Canadian health economist Roderick Fraser warned, “the size of the Canadian health care sector in relation to the current health status of Canadians and in particular to the current lifestyle of Canadians, hazardous as it is to health status, leads one to wonder if we have been over-sold on cost-containment.” 21 When EPF was merged with the Canada Assistance Plan (CAP) in the 1995 federal budget, creating the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST), total federal contributions to health care became impossible to distinguish from contributions to social assistance and services and post-secondary education. Latterly, this has resulted in ongoing feuding between the federal and provincial/territorial governments over the respective shares of health financing. Not only is the portion of the CHST allocated to health care variable and indistinguishable from other social programs, the amount of the CHST itself has been unstable since its introduction. In the two fiscal years beginning April 1996, government cut CHST cash by 33%. It will not be until 2002-03 that the CHST cash floor will equal its 1994-95 level, with no adjustment for the increasing health care needs of Canadians, inflation or economic growth. 12 A five year $11.5 billion cumulative reinvestment in health care announced in 1999 and an additional one-time unearmarked investment of $2.5 billion in 2000 are a combination of increases to the CHST cash floor and one-time supplements. These CHST supplements, totalling $3.5 billion over three years starting in 1999 and $2.5 billion over four years starting in 2000 are not included in the CHST cash floor, nor are they intended to grow over time through an escalator. These multi-year supplements are charged to the preceding year’s budget. Once allocated and spent, the money is gone. These supplements are merely “tentative half-measures” and by no means a substitute for fostering short-, medium- and/or long-term planning. 12 The effect of the squeeze on public health care finance in Canada is clearly evident in international comparative perspective. During the 1980s and early 1990s, governments were fond of calling Canada the “silver medalist” in health expenditures as we were second only to the U.S. in terms of total per capita expenditures. As of 1998, however, Canada ranks fourth among OECD countries and much lower when we consider just the public component. In 1998, Canada ranked 8th with respect to public per capita spending (the “private system” U.S. ranked third and indeed recorded per capita public spending that was 13% higher than Canada). When public expenditure is considered as a percentage of total health expenditure, Canada was much closer to the bottom, ranking 23rd out of 30. 22 These rankings are not generally well-known and governments are generally not interested in getting this information out to Canadians. Demographics The issue of demography has been widely discussed in recent years and a variety of scenarios regarding the impact of the aging Canadian population has been presented. It was featured in the CMA (1982) report as one of two major pressures on the system, along with technology (see below). According to a 1998 Report of the Auditor General of Canada, the number of people 65 years of age and over is expected to more than double from 3.6 million in 1996 to almost 9 million by 2031. 23 The implication for health care is substantial. On average, per capita public spending on health for those aged 65 and over is almost five times greater than per capita spending on the rest of the population. 23 In our 2000 research, we identified four schools of thought: * The first, and the one that has probably received the greatest attention, posits that as a result of population aging, total health costs will increase significantly and will require an increased relative share of GDP. * The second argues that total health costs will increase, but only gradually, and this increase will be absorbed by GDP growth and reallocations from other sectors. * The third school believes that population aging will result in an increase in the demand for health care, but that we will be able to contain costs by delivering health care more efficiently. * The fourth school holds that the demand for health care will decrease because the future population, and in particular the future elderly population, will enjoy better health status. From the 2000 discussion paper it was evident that there is no clear consensus on the prospects for sustainability. 24 In July 2000, Ipsos-Reid polled the Canadian public on behalf of the CMA, with respect to their agreement on the likelihood that each school will play out over the next 20 years. The results are shown in Table 1 (with exact wording). 25 Clearly, Canadians are skeptical about our ability to sustain an affordable health care system. We share their concern. [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Table 1: Poll of Canadians’ Views School of thought % reporting agreement 1. Healthcare costs will rise sharply, thereby increasing demands for public funds for health care 45 2. Healthcare costs will rise gradually, the increase will be manageable due to growth in the economy 19 3. The demand for healthcare will increase but we will be able to contain costs by operating the healthcare system more efficiently 29 4. The demand for healthcare will decrease because the population will enjoy better health status 11 [TABLE END] A September 2001 OECD study has compiled the most recent projections of aging related to public expenditures over the 2000-2050 period, and in general, significant health care cost increases associated with population aging are expected. “The average increase over the 2000-2050 period for the 14 countries where this information is available is 3 to 3.5 percentage points of GDP. But for five countries (Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States), increases of 4 percentage points or more are projected.” 26 For Canada specifically, the study estimates that the 2000 level of 6.5% of GDP allocated for public health expenditures will increase to roughly 10.5% over the 2000-2050 period—more than the current GDP share of total health expenditures (9.3% in 2000). Similarly, according to a recent study by the Conference Board of Canada, “public health expenditures are projected to rise from 31% in 2000 to 42% by 2020 as a share of total provincial and territorial government revenues.” 27 This would clearly squeeze other categories of social spending and public expenditure. While to a certain degree these projection studies are intended to be “self-defeating prophecies”, in our judgement, when these are factored in to the overall context of what the demographic shift will mean for the aging workforce and social security generally, there is reason for profound concern. Health Technology Over the past few decades, technology has made a great contribution toward pushing back the frontiers of Medicare. Based on a 2001 survey of U.S. general internists of their assessment of 30 of the most significant innovations over the past 25 years, Fuchs and Sox reported that the most important innovation by a considerable margin is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scanning. 28 The potential of CT and MRI technology for screening, diagnosis and the image-guided treatment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and cancer has been documented by Industry Canada’s Medical Imaging Technology Roadmap Steering Committee. 29 In terms of keeping pace with developments in technology, Canada is woefully behind other OECD countries for selected diagnostic and treatment technology, except for radiation therapy equipment (Table 2). 30 The CMA has estimated that, for the technologies listed in Table 2 (plus positron emission tomography, for which data are not available from the OECD), it would require an overall capital cost of $1 billion plus an operating cost of $0.74 billion (for a three-year period) to bring Canada up to the standard of access to medical technology of developed countries with a similar level of per capital income. [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Table 2: Canada’s relative position among OECD countries with respect to selected medical technology, 1997 Canada OECD countries reporting Selected Technology Level; units per million pop. Rank No. of countries Avg. level; units per million pop. First rank; units per million pop. Computed tomography 8.1 12 15 12.7 24.9 Magnetic Resonance Imaging 1.7 11 13 3.7 8.4 Lithotripter 0.5 10 11 1.9 3.7 Radiation therapy 7 5 13 6.1 14.8 [TABLE END] The Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology (CCOHTA) has just completed a national inventory of several types of imaging equipment, which will form a useful basis for further discussion. If we relate the numbers of units to the July 2001 population 31, the only significant shift since 1997 has been in MRI scanners, where the rate has more than doubled to 3.6 units per million population – still below the 1997 OECD average of 3.7. The 2001 level of CT scanners of 9.7 per million is still significantly below the 1997 OECD average of 12.7, and there has been no change in the relative availability of lithotripters. 32 The September 10, 2000 10-point health accord that was concluded by First Ministers 33 did include a $1 billion fund to modernize technology, however, no accountability measures were attached to it and so a year later we really do not know how much of it has actually been spent on the purchase of new equipment that has been put into the service of patients. More generally, the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) has expressed concerns about aging equipment that may be providing unreliable diagnostic information. 34 In summary, the CMA supports the efforts of CCOHTA to date, while suggesting that the introduction, diffusion and replacement of medical technology is still occurring across Canada in too haphazard a fashion. The need for better planning has been well put by the Industry Canada Committee, which stated that “The health-care system needs to develop budgetary tools and financial systems which permit and facilitate cost-effective technological innovation. Health-care funding, including capital cost amortization, needs to be stable and predictable, and independent of political uncertainties.” 29 5. CRISIS OF ACCOUNTABILITY . . . COOPERATIVE MECHANISMS Why is it that those who know the most about health and health care – practitioners – have the least opportunity to participate in the key decisions about health and health care? This is the key to re-establishing accountability in the system. We believe that the crisis of accountability is due in large measure to a profound problem in the governance of Canada’s health system. If we may define governance as the process of effective coordination when knowledge and power are distributed, there are at least three axes in Canada along which power and knowledge are distributed: a. between federal/provincial/territorial and regional authority/municipal levels of government/administration; b. along the east-west array of provinces and territories; and c. among a range of stakeholders, including government, non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and citizens. There has been a substantial and growing imbalance among these axes over the past decade; it seems that at any given time it is difficult to achieve concerted direction on more than one of them. For much of the past decade, the tension between the federal/provincial/territorial governments in relation to healthcare has been very pronounced. For example, the provinces and territories did not generally participate in the National Forum on Health. Conversely, when the provincial/territorial Health Ministers produced their 1997 Renewed Vision for Canada’s Health System (Conference of Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health 1997), the report received very little attention at the federal level. 6 In both cases, the admonitions of the health care community went largely unheeded. While there has been progress along this front, as evidenced by the February 1999 Social Union Framework Agreement (Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat 1999) and the September 2000 health accord, this highlights a second problem. In general, governments have discounted the role that NGOs and citizens might play in policy-making and in promoting policy among its members. The recent federal/provincial/territorial agreements have been negotiated by government officials behind closed doors (executive federalism), and yet it is the providers and patients who are expected to implement and live with the results. This is in keeping with the lack of openness and transparency of the entire federal/provincial/territorial policy process. To highlight one problem that this has caused, the acute shortage of physicians in many places across Canada is due, in part, to the unilateral decision by Health Ministers in 1992 to reduce undergraduate medical enrolment by 10%. These problems are exacerbated by the rapid turnover of both Health Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Again, the admonitions of the health community went largely unheeded. Clearly, Canadians are unimpressed with the back and forth squabbling between levels of government. We believe this is partly reflected in the findings of our 2001 Report Card Survey. When asked to rate the federal government’s performance in dealing with health care in Canada, Canadians were six times as likely to give it a failing “F” grade (30%) than they were to give an excellent “A” grade (5%). Similarly, 35% of Canadians gave their provincial government an “F” grade while just 6% gave it an “A” grade. 19 If we are to achieve a vision for a sustainable Medicare program in the challenging decades ahead, it will be critical to resolve the imbalances along these axes. Governments must begin to work collaboratively with other stakeholders, including citizens. Prior to the Health Ministers meeting in September 2000, the Canadian Health Care Association, Canadian Nurses Association and the CMA put forward a proposal to them for a Council on Health System Renewal based on the principles of consultation and collaboration. 35 A year later we have yet to hear a response. Perhaps there may be lessons to learn from the Council of Ministers of Education, which has been meeting since 1967. While this Council does not include formal NGO representation, it does sponsor events such as a symposium that involve key stakeholders.36 PATHWAYS TO STABILIZING THE TRAUMATIZED PATIENT The traumatized patient of “Medicare” needs to be stabilized. The Health Accord (September 2000) goes part of the way. What remains is to set out some of the parameters of change that can ensure that we keep the best of what we have but also progress the system to address the challenges set out in the previous section. Five such parameters of change are set out below. 1. FOCUS ON THE “HOWS”(not just the “whats”) The health reform discussions of the 1990s in Canada have been dominated by questions of what we need to do, e.g. expand benefits to include pharmacare and home care. Discussions did not deal with the “hows”. When the “how” was considered at all, governments generally approached reform with a “big bang” approach. International experts have recognized that this is very unlikely to be successful when there are many stakeholders in a plurality of settings—which is certainly an apt depiction of the Canadian health care landscape. There is a clear need for a collaborative approach to “change management” that is based on early, ongoing and meaningful involvement of all key stakeholders. In approaching change management there are two important principles to keep in mind. The first is the need for evidenced-based decision-making. This is adapted from the concept of evidenced-based medicine, which stresses the examination of evidence from clinical research based on a range of quantitative and qualitative approaches. 37 The second would be to reaffirm the Canadian way of approaching change, namely: evolution not revolution. By this we mean that we should build on the best of what we have in the current Canadian system 2. ADOPT A VALUES-BASED APPROACH TO CHANGE After much discussion, the CMA is of the view that any proposed changes should be assessed in relation to a limited number of first principles. For the purposes of this paper, Medicare as we know it today consists of those services that are covered by the five program criteria of the Canada Health Act; essentially medically necessary services provided in hospitals and doctors’ offices. As we reflect on where we have come in Medicare and where Canada might go, as physicians we believe that the following first principles underpin any new and sustainable policy direction. * Patient-centered focus – reforms must focus on meeting the needs of the patient rather than the system * Inclusivity – to truly achieve buy-in to change all key stakeholders; payors, providers and patients; must be engaged in early, ongoing and meaningful consultation * Accountability – all stakeholders must assume some level of accountability for the health care system * Universality – we believe that health care must be available and accessible to all Canadians and that health resources should be allocated on the basis of relative medical need. We would underscore that Medicare is the last remaining universal program in Canada and needs to be preserved and protected. * Choice – one of the hallmarks of Medicare is that patients have the freedom to choose their physician, to switch with another physician and/or to seek a second opinion. We believe it is essential that the principle of choice between physicians and patients must be sustained. * Physician as Agent of the Patient – we believe that Medicare has promoted the concept of the physician as agent of the patient and that this must continue. * Quality – we believe that the Canadian health care system must continuously strive to provide quality care. By quality care we mean services that are evidenced-based, appropriate for patient needs and delivered in a manner that is timely, safe and effective. In summary, we believe that these principles can serve to guide the “modernization” of our health care system for the future, while at the same time building on the best of our current system. 3. STRIKING A BETTER BALANCE BETWEEN EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE As we contemplate the future of Medicare it is useful to begin by establishing a frame of reference for the Canadian system. Historically, Canada has distinguished itself in terms of health system design by essentially subsuming the demand side of the market (i.e. public financing) while leaving the supply side alone (e.g. fee-for-service payment methods). Canada has also chosen to provide everyone with first dollar coverage for a somewhat limited range of benefits (unlike our European counterparts). Accordingly, there are two broad dimensions that may be used to describe publicly financed or regulated health care systems in the developed or industrialized world: * Universality Dimension…Coverage of Everybody – the extent to which the public program covers the entire population over all health services; and * Comprehensiveness Dimension…Coverage of Everything – the range of services that are included in the public program and the extent of that coverage. An overall proxy measure of comprehensiveness is the share of total health expenditures that come from the public purse. From a national perspective, physician and hospital services are essentially both universal and comprehensive programs. The universality and comprehensiveness of other health services varies between the provinces and territories. With respect to comprehensiveness as it relates to the total health care system, the Canadian system comes in at 70% public coverage – an amount not dissimilar from most industrialized nations.22 Where Canada differs from other countries is in the distribution of that coverage. Canada has provided extensive public coverage in physician and hospital services (over 90% public payment), with less attention to other services such as home care and prescription drugs (e.g. less than 60% of prescription drug expenditures were public in 1998 38). Other countries tend to spread the extent of public coverage more evenly across the broad spectrum of health services. As we think of the future of Medicare, a key challenge will be to determine whether the uneven distribution of public coverage is a significant issue. It is the view of the CMA that this issue does require serious consideration for a number of reasons: * Canadians can point to the fact that the allocation of physician and hospital resources is predominantly based on patient need. This same principle, however, does not extend to patients whose condition requires access to other kinds of services – out-patient prescription drugs, community mental health care and home care being three examples where economic factors may play a greater role in access decisions. We must consider the equity issues of this dichotomy, acknowledging that there are practical constraints. * Where there are treatment alternatives, the lack of comprehensive coverage may lead to biases that increase costs. Physicians faced with decisions about separation from acute care facilities must factor in the availability of home care programs which are often less than adequate. Some drug treatments are simply outside the reach of many Canadian families, though this may be the most efficacious and cost-efficient route. * The problems cited above have been intensifying due to the changing nature of health service delivery, such as the movement of care to the community and the growth in drug therapies. * Canadian provinces do not all have the same ability to expand beyond physician and hospital services and there are no generally accepted principles to govern that expansion. As a result, there is a patchwork quilt of coverage across the country with widely varying services. If the Commission determines that a more comprehensive range of services is required, then the question will become how this can be achieved. There are several alternatives that can be considered, and there will be a need for new thinking. 4. GENERATE NEW THINKING In Canada, Medicare has been defined by five principles that, taken together, embody the collective value or sense that we are all in the same health lifeboat. Over the years the five program criteria or principles of the Canada Health Act (CHA) have been effective in preserving the publicly funded character of hospital and physician services, although there has been a growing crisis of access. The delivery of health care has been markedly transformed. Treatment methods provided today are often quite different from those provided in the past for the same conditions. This affects the extent to which their care is publicly insured, which is dependent upon how they are treated, who treats them, and where they are treated. During the past few years a number of questions have been raised about the values that underlie health care systems both in Canada and internationally. In the Canadian context we can think of the following three critical questions. First, what range of services should be covered by national principles? Second, are the five principles that currently apply to Medicare sufficient? Third, having defined a range of services whose provision is assured by a set of principles, how do we pay for them? One example of an attempt at new thinking may be seen in the 1995 report of the provincial/ territorial Ministerial Council on Social Policy Reform and Renewal which sets out 15 principles along four themes, namely that social programs must be accessible and serve the basic needs of all Canadians; reflect individual and collective responsibility; be affordable, effective and accountable; and be flexible, responsive and reasonably comparable across Canada. 39 In our view, this language promotes a flexibility of interpretation that reflects our modern diversity and allows for a realignment of priorities as they may change over time. To summarize, in our view the language and content of the principles put out over the past few years are a reflection of the following points: * the principles that have defined Medicare to date cover a declining share of the delivery of health care * the existing CHA principles are increasingly inadequate in respect of assuring Canadians a reasonable (i.e. timely) access to medically necessary services * internationally, it appears that there is a move to adopt guiding principles that cover a broader range of the continuum of care and which rebalance individual and collective responsibility in some measure. We have grown complacent while the rest of the world has experimented. Indeed, to some extent our national health insurance system has forced out innovation. On the other hand, because provinces are reasonably autonomous regarding health, we have had the benefit of interprovincial comparisons. We are also on the leading edge of both a health information and a bio-technological revolution that is going to fundamentally change the practice of medicine and the nature of the patient-physician relationship. We will need to promote flexibility and adaptability in an era of diversity and rapid change. 5. RECOGNIZE THAT BETTER MANAGEMENT (WHILE NECESSARY) WILL NOT BE SUFFICIENT Up to the present, the reports of the federal and provincial/territorial task forces and commissions since the 1980s have concluded that we can manage our way out of the sustainability crisis by introducing a series of supply side measures to control costs. In Canada, these initiatives have included the wave of regionalization (and rationalization), physician controls and numerous proposals for primary care reform. The multi-faceted crisis that we are now experiencing is clear evidence of the inadequacy of these strategies. We suspect that many in the health policy community continue to believe that major efficiency gains remain to be squeezed out of the system. After four consecutive years of negative real growth in public sector health spending (1992 to 1996 inclusive) 38, the CMA cannot accept the premise that working harder or smarter is going to solve the problems of the system. Strategic reinvestments in health are clearly required. We do not believe that we can simply manage our way out of this crisis. Physicians have supported many innovations such as the implementation of clinical practice guidelines and have participated in primary care reform demonstration projects. Improved efficiency alone, however, cannot meet the demands we expect to see in the future. The system must be properly resourced on a predictable basis. NEXT STEPS … There is no “magic bullet” or quick fix that will put our national health program on a sustainable footing and restore Canadians’ confidence in it. Working harder to make the current system work better will not be sufficient. While there are still gains to be made from efficiencies and integration, we cannot simply manage our way out of this problem. It is time for fundamental change. We should not be discouraged from pressing on with this daunting challenge; it is imperative that we begin to act immediately. This brief sets out the variety of pressures that render the current health system unsustainable. It also sets out a value-based policy framework that can help guide future deliberations and point us to policies that can help address the rising concerns among both providers and Canadian health consumers. The brief is not intended to be all-encompassing. Various other medical organizations will be making representations to the Commission. The CMA encourages the Commission to seriously consider the complementary briefs submitted by our sister organizations. The CMA intends to submit its final recommendations, building on this framework, in the spring of 2002. This second brief will again be the product of our extensive set of discussions with the profession. REFERENCES 1 Barer M, Stoddart G. Toward Integrated Medical Resource Policies for Canada. Winnipeg: Manitoba Health; 1991. 2 Shortt S. The doctor dilemma: public policy and the changing role of physicians under Ontario Medicare (Chapter 3). Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press; 1999. 3 Tyrrell L, Dauphinee D. Task force on physician supply in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Forum; 1999. 4 Slight rise in Canada’s physician supply, more specialists and fewer family physicians, reports Canadian Institute for Health Information. Ottawa: Canadian Institute for Health Information; Aug. 9, 2001. [Media release] [http://www.cihi.ca/medrls/09aug2001.shtml] 5 National Health Service. Making the change: a strategy for the professions in healthcare science. London: Department of Health; 2001. [http://www.doh.gov.uk/makingthechange/index.htm] 6 A renewed vision for Canada’s health system. Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health; Jan. 1997. 7 Prime Minister announces formation of Task Force on Modernizing Human Resources Management in the Public Service [press release]. Ottawa: Prime Minister of Canada; Apr. 3, 2001. [http://pm.gc.ca/default.asp?Language=E&Page=newsroom&Sub=newsreleases&Doc=managementtaskforce. 20010403_e.htm] 8 Listening for direction: a national consultation on health services and policy issues. Ottawa: Canadian Health Services Research Foundation; 2001. 9 Buske L. Additional undergraduate, postgraduate and reentry positions announced since summer 1999. Ottawa: CMA Research Directorate; July 16, 2001. 10 Sim P. Report of the 1999 survey of medical students. London: University of Western Ontario; 1999. 11 Human Resources Development Canada Studies in Progress. http://www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca//hrib/hrib/hrp-prh/ssd-des/english/projects/projects.shtml. Accessed May 1, 2001. 12 On the road to recovery…an action plan for the Federal Government to revitalize Canada’s health care system. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; Sept. 2000. 13 Specialty care in Canada: issue identification and policy challenges. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2001. 14 2001 Physician resource questionnaire. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2001. 15 Blendon R, Schoen C, Donelan K, Osborn R, DesRoches CM, Scoles K, et al. Physicians’ views on quality of care: a five-country comparison. Health Aff 2001;20(3):233-243. 16 Commitment and care: the benefits of a healthy workforce for nurses, their patients and the system. Canadian Health Services Foundation, The Change Foundation; 2001. 17 Public dialogue sessions 2001: Planning a full recovery—voices, values & vision. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2001 18 Wright J. The public domain: current public opinion attitudes and expectations on Canada’s healthcare system. (presentation). Vancouver: Ipsos Reid Group; May 15, 2000. 19 National report card on health care 2001. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2001. 20 2000 Physician resource questionnaire. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2000. 21 Bird R, Fraser R. Commentaries on the Hall Report. Toronto: Ontario Economic Council; 1981. 22 Health data 2001. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; 2001. 23 Population aging and information for parliament: understanding the choices (chapter 6). In Report of the Auditor General of Canada. Ottawa: Office of the Auditor General of Canada; April 1998. 24 In search of sustainability: prospects for Canada’s health care system. Ottawa: CMA; 2001. 25 Canadians call for funding and multi-stakeholder involvement to cure health care ills. Ottawa: CMA; Aug. 13, 2000. [http://www.cma.ca/advocacy/news/2000/08-13.htm]. 26 Dang T, Antolin P, Oxley H. Fiscal implications of ageing: projections of age-related spending. Paris: OECD; Sep. 5, 2001. 27 The future cost of health care in Canada: balancing affordability and sustainability. Ottawa: The Conference Board of Canada; 2001. 28 Fuchs V, Sox H. Physicians’ views of the relative importance of thirty medical innovations. Health Aff 2001; 20(5):30-42. 29 Medical Imaging Technology Roadmap Steering Committee. Future needs for medical imaging in health care. Ottawa: Industry Canada; 2000. 30 Health data 1999. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; 1999. 31 Statistics Canada. Latest Indicators; Oct. 24, 2001. [http://www.statcan.ca/start.html]. 32National Inventory of Selected Imaging Equipment. Ottawa: Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology; 2001. [http://www.ccohta.ca/newweb/imaging_equip/imaging_equip.htm]. 33 First Ministers’ meeting: communiqué on health. Ottawa: Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat; Sep. 11, 2000. [http://www.scics.ca/cinfo00/800038004_e.html]. 34 Radiology in crisis: majority of equipment dangerously outdated. Montreal: Canadian Association of Radiologists; Sep. 28, 2000. [http://www.car.ca/press/equipment.htm]. 35 Barrett P. Letter to Hon. Allan Rock and Hon. David Chomiak. Ottawa: CMA; Sept. 25, 2000. 36 About the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. Toronto: CMEC; 2000 [http://www.cmec.ca] 37 Evidence-Based Working Group. Evidence-based medicine: a new approach to teaching the practice of medicine. JAMA 1992; 268(4): 2420-2425. 38 National health expenditure trends 1975-2000. Ottawa: Canadian Institute for Health Information; 2000. 39 Report to Premiers. Ottawa: Ministerial Council on Social Policy Reform and Renewal; 1995.
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Presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations : Securing Our Future . . . Balancing Urgent Health Care Needs of Today With The Important Challenges of Tomorrow

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy2013
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2001-11-01
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2001-11-01
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) values the open, constructive and ongoing dialogue afforded by the Standing Committee on Finance’s Pre-Budget Consultations process. As a society, it is essential that we make every effort to work together to find lasting solutions to what are a series of complex and interdependent policy issues, especially during these turbulent times. Last August, the Committee set out objectives for this year’s consultations. You asked for advice on how to ensure that Canada remains a major player in the New Economy while providing Canadians with equal opportunities to succeed and create a socio-economic environment where they can enjoy the best quality of life and standard of living. However, world events have intervened and the urgent has crowded out the important. The CMA has suspended, for the most part, what we consider important longer term issues in an effort to do our part in helping guide the government’s deliberations in this time of national need. We support the government’s commitments, to date, in response to the events of September 11 and their aftermath. We are cognizant of the economic forecasts that show a slowing economy as a result and the need to re-focus our national attention on security issues. The overriding challenge for this Committee therefore, will be to develop recommendations for the next budget that address the current and future situation with respect to national security without losing sight of internal needs such as pursuing the innovations necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of our health care system. Indeed, we see the latter as supporting the former. The CMA is committed to working closely with the federal government to ensure that Canada’s health care system can respond to immediate health security challenges. Our members are committed to continuing to ensure that Canadians’ confidence is restored by developing and implementing policy initiatives that serve to strengthen Canadians’ access to quality health care when they need it. To this end and building on our efforts since September 11, the CMA has put together a to meet these objectives. Specifically, the CMA has examined and developed recommendations that address national preparedness in terms of security, health and capacity; the capacity of our health human workforce in addressing current and future demands; and a look beyond the urgent to the necessary, in the form of a proposed process to review tax policy in support of health policy. II. PREPAREDNESS Health and Security The events of September 11, 2001 have had a profound impact on the lives of Canadians. Anxiety over the openness of our borders, the safety of our airlines and our vulnerability to attacks filled the media and our conversations in the days following the tragedies in the United States. A Canadian Ipsos Reid Express survey taken for the Canadian Medical Association October 23-25, 2001 indicated that 31% of respondents report ongoing sadness, anger, disturbed sleep, or are overprotective of their children. 1 This confirms what our members are telling us, based on everyday practice. A GPC International survey indicates that three-quarters of Canadians have a moderate to strong fear that the US-led anti-terrorist campaign will lead to Canada being a possible terrorist target. 2 An earlier Canadian Ipsos Reid Express survey taken October 1, 2001 shows that the attacks have risen to the top of the list of issues (73%) that should receive the greatest attention among our leaders. 3 Social issues, including health, are the second rated (49%) concern among Canadians. The Canadian Medical Association’s response following the terrorist attack was immediate and is ongoing. Working through and with our provincial/territorial Divisions and Affiliates, the Association began collecting names of those physicians willing to offer assistance to US agencies dealing with the tragedy should it have been requested. As well, we spearheaded the development of the Canadian Mental Health Support Network (www.cma.ca/cmhsn), which includes Health Canada and twelve other national health associations, to help Canadians and Canada’s health professionals cope with the mental health aftermath of the attack. The work of this network continues in terms of a series of public security announcements to be released very soon and in terms of ensuring that the information available through health professionals is clear, concise and consistent. We also provided continuous updated advice to Canadian doctors about bioterrorist threats. In the early days of the anthrax scare, before Health Canada had materials available for the public, hundreds of calls for information to 1-800-OCanada were referred daily by Health Canada to the CMA. However, there is an aspect of this issue requiring urgent attention given the current environment. It is the ability of our health system to respond to a disaster, be it a terrorist attack, a natural disaster or a large scale accident. As the Canadian Medical Association and others have documented, the people and the infrastructure of our system is already stretched in its capacity to deal with everyday demands. We have seen that emergency rooms across this country can barely cope with the increased demands brought on by the annual flu season. The system is already operating at or beyond capacity. Devastation approaching the scale of September 11 has not been seen in Canada since December 6, 1917 with the Halifax explosion. While no health system can ever be fully prepared to meet such a staggering level of destruction, it must have the confidence, the resources and, the disaster planning and referral systems to rise to the challenge if Canadians are to be reassured that help will be there if and when they need it. Public Health and Safety The challenge – if and when it comes – will require a local response that is supported nationally. To appreciate the scope of the work necessary to prepare the health system for the threats brought by terrorism it will be useful to understand the challenges currently facing public health in Canada. We have long enjoyed the benefits of a solid public health system through the various health protections, health promotion, and disease prevention and control programs created to maintain and improve the health of the population. The essential role of the medical officer of health in the public health system must be acknowledged, supported, and respected. Their credibility provides the community and health care professionals, particularly physicians, with balance and specialized medical expertise on public health matters. When the board of health is performing its mandated duties successfully, few are even aware that it is at work. Yet when a public health crisis strikes, the community expects rapid, knowledgeable, expert and quality attention to matters. But it can only do that if there is a strong infrastructure in place to meet the challenge. A clear and present danger is the emergence of new diseases or the re-appearance of old ones. An editorial in the April 27, 2000 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine expresses concern about the ability of public health infrastructures to cope with this problem without the resources needed to respond. 4 Increased trade, rising migration rates, and changes in the environment have led to worries over the revival of diseases thought to be under control or near extinction (e.g., human plague, tuberculosis and malaria) and even the recognition of some new “bugs”. The need to be vigilant about the re-emergence of infectious diseases was brought home to governments with a large outbreak of human plague in India in 1994. 5 Out of 876 cases reported, characterized as presumptive plague, 56 were fatal. A large outbreak of Ebola in Zaire in 1995 led to as many as 233 people dying from the disease and further strengthened the case for devoting resources to this problem. 6 West Nile Virus The New York City area got a first-hand look at this problem in 1999 with the appearance of the West Nile virus in North America. As the New York Times reported, it may have come in the blood of a traveler returning from Africa or Europe. 7 It may have arrived in an infected bird smuggled in baggage or even in a mosquito that got onto a jet. In spite of efforts to contain the disease, it has now begun to spread through the eastern portion of the continent, as far north as southern Ontario and as deep as Florida. Tuberculosis Tuberculosis remains one of the world’s two deadliest infections and it is feared to be on the verge of a major comeback. The disease kills 1.5 million to 2 million people a year, almost as many as AIDS. Experts say that toll could increase in the coming years because TB bacteria are evolving dangerous new strains that are increasingly drug-resistant. 8 Health Canada reports that there have been some cases (and deaths) in Canada of multiple drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) strains. 9 Only Newfoundland, PEI and the territories have not had cases of drug-resistant TB. Latvia and Russia are considered “hot spots” in the world for MDR-TB. However, one in three reported isolates in New York City in recent years was MDR-TB. As well, highly resistant strains spread from New York to Florida, Nevada, Georgia and Colorado in less than two years. Malaria The World Health Organization estimates that one million die from malaria a year and 90% of those deaths are Africans (2500 African children under five die from malaria each day). 10 The disease seems to be dying back in other continents but growing stronger across Africa. The WHO report on infectious diseases describes malaria as having the power to “overwhelm a young child causing high fever, convulsions and breathing difficulties. With the onset of cerebral malaria the child lapses into a coma and may die within 24 hours.” 11 AIDS According to the WHO, there are over 33 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS. 12 The hardest hit area is sub-Saharan Africa where one in four of the adult population has HIV/AIDS. In South Africa, 10% of the population is now infected with HIV. 13 The problem among pregnant women is worse, with 22% infected with HIV. In May, 2000, the US National Security Council declared that the spread of AIDS across the world is a threat to national security. 14 The concern, like many of the infectious diseases, is that eventually it will overwhelm the ability of governments to cope with the disease. The US government has sought to double to $254 million to combat AIDS overseas. Readiness Post-September 11 The tragic events of September 11 provided a grim reminder of the necessity of having a strong public health infrastructure in place at all times. As was demonstrated quite vividly that day, we do not have the luxury of time to prepare for these events. While it is not possible to plan for every contingency, certain scenarios can be sketched out and prepared for. To succeed, all communities must maintain a certain consistent level of public health infrastructure to ensure that all Canadian residents are protected from threats to their health. These are only some of the external threats. The Canadian public health system must also cope with domestic issues such as diseases created by environmental problems (e.g., asthma), sexually transmitted diseases, and influenza, among many others. Even before the spectre of bioterrorism this country’s public health experts were concerned about the infrastructure’s ability to deal with multiple crises. There are many vacancies among the public health physician and nursing staffs, particularly in rural and northern Canada as well as the First Nations units. This workforce is also aging and efforts to attract and retain staff have been lagging. The announcement of October 18, 2001 by the federal government of a $11.59 million investment was welcome news to Canadians in the aftermath of September 11. It provided for the “basics” in terms of stockpiling of necessary antibiotics, the purchase of sensor and detection equipment to help respond to radio-nuclear incidents, enhancing a laboratory network to better equip them to detect biological agents, and provide training to front-line health care professionals to help them recognize, diagnose and treat suspicious illnesses. However, far more needs to be done to improve our ability to respond to health and security contingencies of all kinds. The Walkerton water crisis is an example of the difficulties often faced by public health officials. Without the full resources (legislative, physical, financial, human) to do the job properly, the health of Canadians is potentially jeopardized. The Ontario Medical Association emphasized this point in its brief to the Walkerton Inquiry: “Unstable and insufficient resources hamper the Ontario public health system. Steps must be taken by the provincial government to enhance the ability of boards of health to deliver public health programs and services that promote and protect health and prevent disease and injury. Sufficient and reliable public health funding is critical.” 15 The CMA reinforced that message in a resolution passed at its 2001 Annual General Meeting: “That CMA recommend all levels of government across Canada urgently review legislation governing all aspects of drinking water from source to consumption to ensure that comprehensive programs are in place and being properly implemented, with effective linkages to local, provincial and territorial public health officials and Ministries of Health.” In a recent broadcast in the United States, Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out seven priority areas for building capacity and preparedness within a public health system: 16 * A well trained, well staffed public health workforce * Laboratory capacity to produce timely and accurate results for diagnosis and investigation * Epidemiology and surveillance to rapidly detect health threats * Secure, accessible information systems to help analyze and interpret health data * Solid communication to ensure a secure two-way flow of information * Effective policy evaluation capability * A preparedness and response capability which includes a response plan and testing and maintaining a high state of preparedness These points apply whether the threat is a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Public health must be ready for all such threats. And, at present, we are told, that responding to a crisis like Walkerton or North Battleford, not to mention the possibility of co-ordinated bioterrorism, effectively results in public health units shutting down many core programs that are the building blocks of the health care system. As the long shadow of bioterrorism rises over Canada and menaces our health and wellbeing, these issues take on even more significance to Canadians. This Committee must do its part to provide for an “act locally by thinking nationally” with regard to public health support systems. The Current Context As noted above, prior planning and preparation is one of the keys to ameliorating the effects of such sudden and calamitous occurrences. It must be remembered that a catastrophic event of the nature that occurred on September 11 is a local event in that it happens within the jurisdiction of a specific municipality. The quality and level of the response depends on how well prepared the local authorities are for such actions. The local capacity to respond varies across Canada with some area health services (e.g., the larger urban centres) better prepared and equipped than others (there may be jurisdictions that do not have plans). Regardless of how well prepared any municipality is there is always the very strong possibility that public health officials will be overwhelmed and need to turn to the province or territory for help. It is also possible that the event is so massive that even the provincial or territorial resources are besieged and it must call on the federal government with their stockpiles of medical supplies and access to epidemiologists and laboratory services. That assumes good planning before hand between the federal and provincial/territorial governments and that is not necessarily the case. There is an important role for the federal government to urgently improve the coordination among authorities and reduce the variability among the various response plans in cooperation with provincial authorities (and assist those in preparing plans where none exist). Health Canada must help facilitate efforts to rationalize preparations and make it easier for jurisdictions to assist one another in a time of disaster. This could include measures such as transferring patients quickly to facilities outside the affected area when the immediate hospitals are full or even to transferring them to other provinces or territories if necessary. Disease surveillance is another component of these measures. To be effective there must be, at the provincial and territorial level, linked electronic surveillance mechanisms that are standardized and the staff available to analyze and report the data. At the federal level, the government must be ready to provide data in a timely fashion, especially in an emergency. However, very few of Canada’s doctors will have seen the disease entities that threaten Canadians at the moment (e.g., anthrax, smallpox). The CMA has expressed its willingness to assist Health Canada in bringing together stakeholders to develop quickly a curriculum that would train health care professionals to recognize, diagnose and treat the new threats we face as a society. The government must also aid in the development of volunteer teams of health professionals and other experts that can be mobilized rapidly in response to disasters wherever and whenever they occur. The concept would be similar to the military's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). 17 DART consists of medical, engineering, logistics, communications and security personnel ready to deploy at short notice to anywhere in the world from their support base at Canadian Forces Base Trenton. It is crucial, that the federal government build and maintain its supplies for emergency use, its public health laboratories for early detection, its capacity to rapidly train and inform frontline health workers of emerging threats, its ability to assist the provinces and territories, and co-ordinate provincial responses in the event of overwhelming or multiple simultaneous threats. In this area, the CMA recommends that: 1. The federal government immediately provide a minimum of $15 million for an assistance fund to municipal and provincial authorities to improve the co-ordination of their emergency responses among public health officials, police, fire and ambulance services, hospitals and other services. This fund should be over and above a similar sized investment to ensure that Health Canada’s Centre for Emergency Preparedness can function even only at a minimal level of effectiveness. The announcement of October 18 by the Minister of Health that $11.59 million would be spent to enhance our response to a potential attack is an important step toward reassuring Canadians that help will be there when they need it. However, far more must be done to further expand the federal government’s ability to assist municipalities, provinces and territories in dealing with disasters. The vital role played by disease surveillance cannot be stressed enough. In the event of an unusual or particularly feared illness, or an outbreak of a preventable disease, the public’s attention can quickly focus on the public health unit’s response. The medical officer of health communicates with physicians (specialists and, general and family practices physicians) in the community. Physicians, especially general and family practice physicians, depend upon their medical officers of health and the health units as an important resource. This includes information on contact tracing, interpretation of unusual clinical symptomatology, vaccination, communicable disease control, outbreak control, environmental health, cluster investigation, epidemiology, travel medicine etc. An effective and efficient surveillance system must be in place in order to provide this data quickly to stop the spread of a disease as fast as possible. Unfortunately, a weak link in the existing surveillance system is communications. This has had an impact on health professionals’ ability to receive timely information regarding changes in disease incidence in their community. Regional, provincial/territorial and federal authorities must work to improve the coordination of communications at all levels to protect the health and wellbeing of Canadians in times of crisis. The CMA recommends that: 2. The federal government continue to invest, at a minimum, $25 million in the coming year in the resources and infrastructure (i.e., medical supplies, equipment, laboratory facilities, and training for health care professionals), needed to anticipate and respond to disasters. The sale of Connaught Laboratories meant that Canada lost much its residual capacity to manufacture vaccines. If this were a “normal” war, Canadians would be looking to divert our manufacturing capacity toward meeting the threat. Given the biological threat, the Government of Canada should be negotiating with the pharmaceutical industry to increase our capacity to produce a secure supply of vaccine on Canadian soil. This would include the need for more than one supplier and the capacity to increase quickly the production of the vaccine. The CMA recommends that: 3. That the federal government undertake an immediate review of Canada’s self-sufficiency in terms of critical medical supplies (e.g., vaccines) required in the event of disasters with a view to short term self sufficiency. Surge Capacity Among the first points of contact with the health system for Canadians in the event of a significant attack on our population it will be the doctors offices and the emergency rooms of our hospitals. As noted earlier, we have witnessed in recent years the enormous strain these facilities can be placed under when even something quite routine like influenza strikes a community hard. The media abounded with stories of patients waiting hours to be examined, of stretchers lining corridors and of ambulances being redirected from hospital to hospital. Canadians themselves experienced first-hand how the resources of the hospitals, particularly the human resources, were stretched to the breaking point. The acute care occupancy rates of Ontario public hospitals across the Ontario Hospital Association regions in 1999-00 illustrate this point. In three of the five regions (Eastern Ontario, Central and South West) the occupancy rate ranged from 94% to 97% 18. The highest rate was found in the very heavily populated Central region. A British Medical Journal study suggests that an occupancy rate over 90% indicates that the hospital system is in a regular bed crisis 19. This problem is not unique to Ontario: “the decrease in the number of acute care beds across Canada over the past decade, coupled with an aging population and our extraordinary success in extending the survival of patients with significant chronic illness, has eliminated any cushion in bed occupancy in the hospital system.” 20 With this in mind, picture a catastrophe similar in scale to the destruction seen in New York or Washington D.C. occurring in downtown Toronto, Vancouver or Montréal; or perhaps the release of smallpox or botulism over Fredericton or Winnipeg. As noted earlier, the public health system and medical diagnostic and treatment systems in the community and hospitals could become overwhelmed very quickly without the ability to absorb the extra caseload. Like our hydro system, that is why surge capacity must be built into the system nationally to enable hospitals to open beds, purchase more supplies, and bring in the health care professionals it requires to meet the need. An element of surge capacity that is seriously lacking is the federal government’s contribution to emergency bed space. With the closure of most of the Canadian Force’s hospitals and the severe loss of experienced health professionals in the military, the government’s ability to assist local and provincial/territorial civilian authorities should their systems become overwhelmed is limited. Currently the National Emergency Stockpile System can supply up to 40,000 cots, as well as medical supplies and relatively rudimentary hospital equipment. Reports indicate, however, that much of the equipment is decades old, and that protocols for logistical management (e.g., transport and rapid deployment) are outdated. There is an urgent need to reassess and reaffirm capacity in this context. The CMA is in close contact with the American Medical Association as they advise their government on coordinating the use of civilian and federal facilities in an emergency. Most hospitals work on a just-in-time inventory basis for the purchase of drugs. Without some sort of plan to quickly re-supply their pharmacies and expand their capacity, patient care will suffer. The federal government must assure Canadians that municipal and provincial plans are in place with an overarching national plan to support these jurisdictions if their service capacities are overwhelmed. As mentioned earlier, the announcement by the federal government of the $11.59 million investment to enhance our response to a potential attack is a good step. But the government must help further by making available an emergency fund that would enable hospitals to plan and organize their surge capacity. The CMA recommends: 4. The federal government provide, in the coming year, $25 million in specific earmarked funding to the provinces and territories to enable health care facilities to plan, build and maintain surge capacity (e.g., open more beds, purchase emergency supplies) into their systems. The purpose of having such elaborate response plans and stockpiles of supplies and equipment is to be ready for the possibility that, in spite of all efforts to prevent a catastrophe from occurring, it nevertheless happens. That is when responsibility for dealing with the aftermath of the event falls largely to the public health system where a strong and viable infrastructure must already be in place to meet the challenge. Without the resources and the preparations, the crisis might well deteriorate and spread beyond “ground-zero.” That notion is often very difficult for non-health sector agencies and organizations to appreciate and can be an impediment to improving our capacity to help Canadians in times of disaster. No one can be completely prepared but you can prepare for certain scenarios. That is where the federal government can facilitate the health system’s readiness and reassure Canadians that help will be there when they need it. The federal government has taken several steps to reassure Canadians that their physical safety is enhanced. This includes the introduction of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the development of an Anti-Terrorism Plan. As well, there is increased funding to the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment to help those agencies do their jobs more effectively. The health system must be considered an integral component of any plan to combat terrorism. It too requires assistance, especially the public health infrastructure, in strengthening its ability to counter the effects of an attack, whomever or whatever is responsible. III. THE CAPACITY OF OUR HEALTH HUMAN WORKFORCE Although the right mix of physical infrastructure and sustainable, long-term funding is necessary, in and of itself, it is not sufficient to ensure that all Canadians have timely access to quality medical services. We must also have an adequate supply of physicians and other health personnel or the system will not have the flexibility or adaptability to respond to basic societal needs or a crisis in times of disaster. We believe that the health workforce in general is facing a major sustainability challenge, and as such, this section of the brief proposes initiatives that are not solely focused on physicians but the entire health human workforce. Reports produced by several health professional organizations show that although overall numbers may be increasing, it is not sufficient to meet future demands. In 2000, there was a moderate 1.7% increase in the nurse population 21; however, a 1997 Canadian Nurses Association report projected that the supply of nurses must grow by 2.1% per year to meet future demand. 22 Similarly, the number of physicians per 100,000 population appears to be increasing slightly each year (187 in 2000), but it remains below the 1993 level of 191 per 100,000 population. The physician to population ratio can be misleading in that it does not necessarily represent full time physicians. CMA figures show that a larger proportion of physicians fall into the older age groups and may not be working full time or indeed may not be providing patient care at all. Also, one needs to factor in the demographics of the current physician workforce. Female physicians, who tend to work fewer hours per week than their male colleagues, now represent 30% of the practising pool. This means that more physicians will be needed to provide the same number of services. But this may not be possible, as approximately two-thirds of all family physicians are no longer routinely accepting new patients. 23 This is placing considerable pressure on those currently working within the health care system with little hope for relief. For example, data gathered through the CMA’s annual Physician Resource Questionnaire (PRQ) substantiates anecdotal evidence that physicians are working harder. Over half the respondents to the 2001 PRQ (53.7%) indicated that their workload had increased over the past year. Looking at specific areas that have caused physicians the greatest degree of stress, 63.7% indicated that their workload is heavier than they would like (up from 62% in 1998), while 58.1% felt that their family and personal life had suffered from choosing medicine as a profession (up from 55% in 1998). There are a number of short-term and longer term initiatives that can be implemented to reverse the shortage in our health care personnel and alleviate the stress they are feeling from trying to keep the system operating as best it can. What follows is a description of the short-term initiative the CMA is proposing for consideration by the Standing Committee. For a detailed description of the longer term initiatives and recommendations, please refer to Appendix A. What Can be Done Today? Given the immediate need for more physicians and other health professionals in Canada and the time lag involved in training, especially for physicians, the CMA proposes that a variation on the strategy adopted by the Canadian Forces (CF) 24 be used to repatriate physicians and other professionals. The CF announced the implementation of a Medical and Dental Direct Entry Officer Recruitment Allowance effective April 1, 1999 to recruit licensed family physicians, general practitioners and dentists. Recruitment incentives involve a lump-sum signing bonus/recruitment allowance of $80,000 per direct entry medical officer and $25,000 per direct entry dental officer after a successful completion of 3 months of basic officer training. The commitment is for a duration of 4 years and retention incentives involve an adjustment to medical and dental rates of pay that are competitive with private sector net earnings. The CMA concurs with the concept of an incentive program as proposed by the CF and suggests that a similar approach be implemented for recruiting and retaining Canadian physicians and other health care professionals currently practising outside of Canada. Presently there are some 10,500 Canadian physicians practicing in the US as well as tens of thousands of Canadian nurses. Of these physicians, close to 1,000 are considered active physicians both in Canada and the US. 25 Some of these physicians are no doubt practising in border towns where dual licensure is common, but many may be expatriates who have maintained their licensure in Canada hopefully with plans to either return or at least leave their future options open. Rather than proposing a lump sum approach as an incentive the CMA proposes that the incentive come through graduated federal income tax relief by reducing federal income tax payable by 50% for 3 years for Canadian physicians and health care professionals who return to practice in Canada. Such an approach provides direct relief and over a period of 3 years would provide incentives similar in size to those proposed by the CF in their recruitment and retention program. It is estimated that such a program would cost approximately $45 million over 3 years to repatriate an estimated 5% or 500 physicians back to Canada. If repatriation of other health care providers were included then it is estimated that the total cost of such an initiative could increase to $85 million over 3 years. The CMA therefore recommends: 5. That the federal government seriously consider implementing a 3-year graduated tax relief and re-allocation policy to encourage expatriate physicians and other health professionals to return to Canada. IV. TAX POLICY IN SUPPORT OF HEALTH POLICY The federal government has played a key role in the development of our health care system, primarily through a variety of measures or policy levers such as: spending; taxation; regulation; and information. Up until now, Canada’s health care system has made extensive use of only two federal policy levers, namely spending, in the form of cost-sharing arrangements between the federal and provincial/territorial governments; and by regulation, through the Canada Health Act. However, the degree to which the government can continue to rely on these levers must be examined. In the not-too-distant future, our health care system will face a number of pressures that will challenge its sustainability. Namely, an aging and more demanding population in terms of the specialty care services and technology they will seek; the cry for expanding the scope of medicare coverage to include homecare and pharmacare; and a shortage of health personnel. Several national health care studies, namely the Prime Minister’s Forum on Health and more recently, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology’s Study of the Health Care System have raised the need to look at alternative health care funding sources. We can not and should not wait any longer to explore and act upon the options available to us. Looking at Alternatives One of the lesser-explored options has been the strategic use of Canada’s taxation system. A public discussion of tax policy has not been seen in Canada since at least 1966. 26 Nor have we seen a major assessment of tax policy in relation to social policy since the 1980’s Macdonald Commission. In fact, the last major overall tax policy review was that of Benson in 1971. There is an urgent need to more fully consider the role that the tax system can play in supporting the health care system. Several proposals have been put forward over time in this areas, such as earmarked taxes for health; health-related excise taxes; input tax credits for health care services; medical savings accounts; saving for long-term care; social insurance; and refundable tax credits. This list is not exhaustive. In fact, the CMA has done some preliminary work in this area by commissioning a discussion paper on taxation and health policy. 27 In the paper, the author puts forth 10 “real world” proposals where the tax system can be used to support health policy. The CMA has initiated detailed discussion with Health Canada, Statistics Canada and others to model some of the possible scenarios. Of course, some of these are more promising than others. It is for this reason that the CMA is recommending the federal government to establish a National Task Force to review the tax system with the purpose of developing innovative tax-based mechanisms that better synchronize tax policy with health policy. In this area, the CMA recommends: 6. That the Federal Government establish a blue ribbon National Task Force to study the development of innovative tax-based mechanisms to better synchronize tax policy and health policy. First and foremost this Task Force would study: a) increasing the reach of the medical expense deduction (i.e., increasing the threshold from the current 3% of taxable expenditures) b) extending the medical expense deduction from a non-refundable tax credit to a refundable tax credit so that those not having income tax payable are afforded easier access to those services not covered under universal health “programs” c) dealing with the untoward inequities arising out of the application of the GST. The CMA envisions the mandate of the Task Force as being – to conduct a thorough policy and costing analysis of all potential tax-based mechanisms (not limited to those outlined in the above recommendations) that can be developed to assist in the financing and management of the health care system. The Task Force would be comprised of representatives from government, the health care system, private sector, and the public and it would issue its findings and recommendations within 2 years of its conception. V. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS In closing, the CMA has offered a powerful and strategic combination of policy initiatives designed to re-vitalize Canada’s health care system as well as to restore Canadians’ confidence that they will be taken care of in times of disaster. The proposals are realistic and practical. They give the provinces and territories full flexibility in terms of policy implementation while ensuring full recognition to the federal government for its essential investments. These proposals emphasize the need for the federal government to continue its leadership to ensure that our health care system, Canada’s most cherished social program, is available to meet the health care needs of all Canadians. No one group can address all of the issues and challenges facing the health care system. The CMA reiterates its commitment to work with the federal government and others to ensure that our health care system will be there for all Canadians in the future and in times of crisis. The Summary of Recommendations is as follows: 1. The federal government immediately provide a minimum of $15 million for an assistance fund to municipal and provincial authorities to improve the co-ordination of their emergency responses among public health officials, police, fire and ambulance services, hospitals and other services. 2. The federal government continue to invest, at a minimum, $25 million in the coming year in the resources and infrastructure (i.e., medical supplies, equipment, laboratory facilities, and training for health care professionals), needed to anticipate and respond to disasters. 3. That the federal government undertake an immediate review of Canada’s self-sufficiency in terms of critical medical supplies (e.g., vaccines) required in the event of disasters with a view to short term self sufficiency. 4. The federal government provide, in the coming year, $25 million in specific earmarked funding to the provinces and territories to enable health care facilities to plan, build and maintain surge capacity (e.g., open more beds, purchase emergency supplies) into their systems. 5. That the federal government seriously consider implementing a 3-year graduated tax relief and re-allocation policy to encourage expatriate physicians and other health professionals to return to Canada. 6. That the Federal Government establish a blue ribbon National Task Force to study the development of innovative tax-based mechanisms to better synchronize tax policy and health policy. First and foremost this Task Force would study: a) increasing the reach of the medical expense deduction (i.e., increasing the threshold from the current 3% of taxable expenditures) b) extending the medical expense deduction from a non-refundable tax credit to a refundable tax credit so that those not having income tax payable are afforded easier access to those services not covered under universal health “programs” c) dealing with the untoward inequities arising out of the application of the GST. APPENDIX A The Capacity of Our Health Human Workforce Looking to the Future There are some signs that governments have begun to acknowledge that we are in a sustained shortage situation. In November 1999, several health ministers met with members of the Canadian Medical Forum Task Force on Physician Supply in Canada which recommended 2000 first year medical school places for 2000. Since then, governments have been very active in committing to increases in both undergraduate and postgraduate medical training. Enrolment of new medical students in 2000/2001 reached 1763 for an increase of 12% since 1997/98. This closely matches the promised increases to undergraduate enrolment made by governments. Approximately 140 more positions have been promised for the school years beginning 2001 and 2002. In this area, the CMA recommends that: 7. That the federal government immediately establish a Health Human Resources Education and Training Fund in the amount of $500 million per year for 5 years to fund: (1) increased enrolment in undergraduate and postgraduate education; and (2) the expanded infrastructure (both human and physical resources) required at Canada’s 16 health science centres as a result of increased enrolment. While the outlook for the future supply of physicians in Canada seems brighter, it will be quite a few years before we can benefit from the current increases in undergraduate enrolment. These initiatives must not only continue, but be enhanced to ensure that our health care system is sustainable into the future. However, there is one factor that may keep us from attaining the optimal level of medical school enrolment – high and rising medical school tuition fees. In August 2000, at the Conference of Premiers, Prime Minister Chretien said, “It is indeed important in the new knowledge-based economy that Canadians … have access to high quality post-secondary education without excessive debt loads, and that every child get the best possible start in life. This is all part of the Canadian competitive advantage.” 28 This sounds well and good, but the facts tell us otherwise. Since 1980, medical school tuition costs have increased by almost 880%, or more than twice as fast as the general cost of living. 29 The average tuition for students entering first year medical school in September 2001 was $12,840, a 158% increase over the 1997 average fee of $4,977. This means that over the course of four years, an undergraduate medical student is likely to spend approximately $110,000 in tuition, academic and living expenses. 30 Many students have had to resort to bank loans to cover the shortfall from their government-sponsored student loan, but the growing amount of debt accumulating for medical students is starting to worry the banks. The CIBC says that rising medical education costs have resulted in debt loads growing much faster than medical students’ potential income and so, it will no longer grant medical students preferred lending rates. The CIBC sets limits on the amount of debt that they feel students can repay in the years following their training. Unfortunately, medical students are now reaching these limits – which are in the $100,000 - $130,000 range. 31 Unlike the government-sponsored loans, interest on bank loans begin accruing immediately, up to a decade before a medical student starts earning a full income. This trend raises serious concerns that access to medical education will be restricted solely on the basis of personal financial resources. High debt loads will discourage capable and qualified students – particularly those from modest financial backgrounds – from applying to medical school. Canada’s health care system needs individuals from different socio-economic, cultural, rural and urban backgrounds to serve an equally diverse population of patients. First and foremost, the government must address the situation concerning the high and rising tuition fees and the insufficient financial support systems available to medical students. It must also consider purchasing additional training positions in Canada’s medical schools specifically targeted for groups, such as Aboriginal, Indian and Inuit populations. These measures will foster the education and training of a diverse population of health care givers, and will support the culturally and socially sensitive health care needs of all Canadians. The CMA sees a strong role for the federal government in ensuring that medicine remains a rewarding and affordable career accessible to students based on their passion and academic performance, not their financial status. The CMA therefore recommends: 8. That, in order to alleviate some of the pressures driving tuition fee increases, the federal government increase transfer payments to the provinces/territories with targeted amounts for post-secondary education. 9. That the federal government create and fund a national health services student bursary program to encourage students who have limited financial resources to apply for an education in health care services. 10. That the federal government develop financial support systems for health services students that are: (a) non-coercive; (b) developed concomitantly or in advance of any tuition increase; (c) in direct proportion to any tuition fee increase; and (d) provided at levels that meet the needs of the students. 11. That the federal government purchase additional training slots in Canadian medical schools for particular segments of our population, such as aboriginals. REFERENCES 1 Canadian Ipsos Reid Express. Terrorist Effect. October 23-25, 2001. 2 GPC International. Canadians split on the best response to the terrorist attacks and fear reprisals at home. Media Release October 18, 2001. www.gpcinternational.com/media/releases/20011018.html 3 Canadian Ipsos Reid Express. The Public Agenda Post September 11, 2001. October 1, 2001 4 Osterholm M. Emerging infections – another warning. NEJM 2000; 342(17) http://www.nejm.org/content/2000/0342/0017/1280.asp. 5 World Health Organization. Plague Manual – Epidemiology, Distribution, Surveillance and Control. The Organization: 1999. http://www.who.int/emc-documents/plague/docs/whocdscsredc992a.pdf 6 Sanchez A. et al. Reemergence of Ebola virus in Africa. Emerging Infectious Diseases Vol. 1(3); July-September 1995. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol1no3/sanchez.htm. 7 Revkin A. Mosquito virus exposes the hole in the safety net. New York Times Oct. 4, 1999. http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/regional/100499ny-pest.html 8Okie S. Tuberculosis is threatening to make a comeback. International Herald Tribune Aug. 11, 1999. http://www.iht.com/IHT/TODAY/WED/IN/tb.2.htm 9 Health Canada. When anti-tuberculosis drugs don’t work. Tuberculosis Epi Update January 2000. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hpb/lcdc/bah/epi/tbdrug_e.html. 10 BBC News Online. Africa confronts malaria. Apr. 25, 2000. http://www.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/newsid_724000/724445.stm 11World Health Organization. World Health Organization Report on Infectious Diseases – Removing Obstacles to Healthy Development. Geneva: The Organization, 1999. http://www.who.int/infectious-disease-report/pages/textonly.html 12 Ibid. 13 BBC News Online. South Africa AIDS crisis worsens. Apr. 19, 2000. http://www.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_719000/719183.stm 14 Richwine L. US declares AIDS a threat to security. National Post May 1, 2000 A1. 15 Ontario Medical Association. Ontario Medical Association Input to Walkerton Inquiry Part II: Protecting the Public’s Health. Toronto. April 2001 16 Koplan JP. Building Infrastructure to Protect the Public’s Health. Public Health Training Network Broadcast September 21, 2001 (Downloaded from Web: October 19, 2001 www.phppo.cdc.gov/documents/KoplanASTHO.pdf ) 17 Dept. of National Defence. Canadian Forces Disaster Assistance Relief Team. BG-99-051 (Amended) October 10, 2001. (Downloaded from Web: October 25, 2001 [www.dnd.ca/eng/archive/2001/oct01/28DART_b_e.htm] 18 Ontario Hospital Reporting System, 2001. Acute Care Occupancy Rates, Ontario Public Hospitals by OHA region, 1999/00. Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. 19 Bagust A, Place M, Posnett J. Dynamics of bed use in accommodating emergency admissions: stochastic simulation model. BMJ; 319: 155-158 July 17, 1999. 20 Nicolle L. Viruses without borders. Can J Infect Dis Vol. 11, Issue 3, May/June 2000 (Downloaded from Web: October 23, 2001: www.pulsus.com/Infdis/11_03/nico_ed.htm) 21 CIHI. Canadian Institute for Health Information Reports Moderate Rise in Register Nurses Workforce, Fewer RNs Working on Casual Basis, More Working Full-time, Media Release, May 23, 2001. 22 Canadian Medical Association. Specialty Care In Canada: Issue Identification and Policy Challenges, October 2001. 23 Canadian NewsWire. Not enough family-physicians to meet patient needs, October 25, 2001 [www.cnw.ca/releases/October2001/25/c0304.html] 24 Incentive Programs for the Recruitment and Retention of Medical and Dental Officers, http://www.dnd.ca/eng/archive/1999/jul99/05DocIncen_b_e.htm 25 Based on a linkage done by Canadian Institute for Health Information of data from Southam Medical Data Base and the America Medical Association’s Masterfile. 26 Carter K. Royal Commission on Taxation, Canada, 1966. 27 Thompson A. Taxation and Health Policy: A Discussion Paper, August 2001. 28 Letter from Prime Minister Jean Chretien to the Honorable Gary Doer, Premier of Manitoba, Chair, Conference of Premiers, August 4, 2000. 29 Ontario Medical Association. Medical Education Fact Sheet, 2001. 30 Admissions/Student and Equity Affairs, Faculty of Medicine, University of Western Ontario. Budgeting Guide for Medical Students: 1999-2000. 31 Banks no longer banking on earning potential of medical students, Canadian Medical Association Journal, June 12, 2001; 164(12) 1735
Documents
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Publicly insured health care services

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy398
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-195
That the federal, provincial and territorial governments work in partnership with the public, physicians and other health care stakeholders to determine which health care services will be publicly insured.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC00-195
That the federal, provincial and territorial governments work in partnership with the public, physicians and other health care stakeholders to determine which health care services will be publicly insured.
Text
That the federal, provincial and territorial governments work in partnership with the public, physicians and other health care stakeholders to determine which health care services will be publicly insured.
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21 records – page 1 of 2.