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Aligning health and economic policy in the interest of Canadians : CMA’s 2004 Pre-Budget Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1949

Last Reviewed
2012-03-03
Date
2004-11-18
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
  2 documents  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2012-03-03
Date
2004-11-18
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
For the past several years, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has been delivering two overall messages to the Standing Committee on Finance. First, we believe that Canadians’ health and their health care system must be recognized as ongoing priorities. Second, we have been making the case that economic policy, including tax policy, must be better aligned with national health policy. This year’s brief provides specific examples of how the federal government can take action to address both of these issues. We begin with an assessment or a “check up” of the health of our health system. We then provide constructive suggestions on how to successfully implement the health agreement reached at the September 13-15, 2004 meeting of First Ministers. Finally, we draw attention to the need for continued investments in public health and healthy public policy. Canadians remain increasingly concerned about the future state of their health care system, particularly in terms of accessing essential care. While their health status has improved over the past decades, international comparisons suggest there is considerable room for improvement. The significant announcements made over the past year related to reinvestments in health care and public health are a welcomed start to support health stakeholders in facing these challenges. The next steps must build on this progress. INVESTING IN HEALTH CARE Build on The First Ministers Meeting Agreement In terms of health care, we must begin by noting that the First Ministers Meeting Agreement (FMM Agreement) was a significant achievement. It represents a positive policy framework to run with, but it must now receive the necessary fiscal, political and legislative follow-through. Legislation should be enacted that specifies the accountability framework for the Agreement. The Wait Times Reduction Fund should be subject to contribution agreements that specify how provinces and territories will use their share of this fund to reduce wait times. Critical to future success is the need for health care stakeholders to be actively involved with all facets of the Agreement, particularly in developing clinically derived wait time benchmarks. Make Health Human Resources a Priority At the same time, the federal government can do more to address accessibility to health care services by making a stronger commitment to increasing Canada’s health human resources capacity. Several strategies are outlined in this brief, beginning with the need to ensure that the Wait Times Reduction Fund in the FMM Agreement is used immediately to address the crisis in health human resources rather than in the last four years of the ten-year Agreement as currently projected. One specific health human resources strategy that the federal government should pursue is providing greater support for the training of students in health care professions as part of an overall health human resources strategy. High student debt is a key health human resource issue. It is estimated that, by the time medical students enter their pre-practice postgraduate training period, many are doing so with a debt of at least $120,000 or more. This high debt load is affecting both the kind of specialty that physicians-in-training choose, and ultimately where they decide to practice. As a result, the CMA calls upon the federal government to implement a national strategy to extend the Canada Student Loans interest payment benefit to eligible health professional students pursuing postgraduate training. Such action would provide a fairer approach and would alleviate some of the problems associated with our current training system of health professionals. ALIGNING TAX POLICY WITH HEALTH POLICY The CMA has highlighted the need to better align tax policy with national health policy goals for some time and we believe this challenge remains a priority. One example of where tax policy and health policy can be better aligned is how the GST is currently applied to the health care sector and to physicians—something the Finance Committee has acknowledged in previous reports. Hospitals in Canada must still pay a portion of the GST on their purchase of goods and services siphoning away millions of dollars that would otherwise be used for patient care. The federal government recognized in the 2004 budget the need to provide a full GST rebate to municipalities, one of the four sectors covered by the so-called “MUSH” formula (Municipalities, Universities, Schools and Hospitals). We call on the government to apply the same logic and provide a full GST rebate to the health care sector. Another problem exists with how the GST is applied to independent health professionals, such as physicians, providing care to Canada’s publicly funded system. By virtue of being “tax exempt” under The Excise Act, physicians cannot claim any input tax credits to offset the GST costs they pay on their purchases of equipment, rent and utilities. Unlike other self-employed people, physicians cannot pass on any of these additional costs. This is a fundamental issue of tax fairness. It can be resolved by zero rating the GST on publicly funded health services provided by independent health providers thereby making them eligible to receive input tax credits. INVESTING IN HEALTH This past year saw many positive developments made to Canada’s public health system. The CMA was pleased to see the creation of the position of Minister of State, Public Health. We commend the Government of Canada for its establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and for its selection of Dr. David Butler-Jones as the new Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. However, the government must continue to reinvest in public health to ensure that the country has a system that earns the trust of Canadians. Investing in public health also makes good economic policy. We have seen in recent years the incredible economic impact that public health outbreaks can have on a country’s economy. Close the Naylor Gap in Public Health The National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health (the Naylor Report) estimated that approximately $1 billion in annual funding is required to implement and sustain the public health programming that Canada requires. While representing an important reinvestment in this country’s public health system, the funding announced in the 2004 Budget falls well short of this basic requirement. Accordingly, the CMA calls on the federal government to address the $450 million “Naylor Gap” as soon as possible. Establish National Health Goals Guiding this country’s efforts to improve the health of Canadians should be the establishment and monitoring of national health goals. Thus, the CMA fully supports the First Ministers’ call to establish a Pan-Canadian Public Health Strategy that includes the setting of health goals that are independently monitored. These goals should also cover environmental health goals given their direct implication on Canadians’ health status. Invest in Health Not Tobacco Another key area for the CMA where current economic policy is not aligned with national health policy is the Canada Pension Plan’s investment in tobacco stocks. Despite the fact that tobacco continues to kill approximately 45,000 Canadians a year and costs Canadian society approximately $11 billion per year in net cost, the Canada Pension Plan continues to invest millions ($94 million) in the tobacco industry. We strongly believe that the CPP Investment Board should be prohibited from investing in the tobacco industry and that it divest its current tobacco holdings. Other major pension and investment plans have successfully executed this policy including the MD Funds held for Canada’s physicians at MD Management Ltd. a wholly-owned subsidiary of CMA. Accordingly, we call on the Standing Committee on Finance along with the Standing Committee on Health to jointly review the CPP investment policy as it relates to investments in tobacco. The FMM Agreement and last year’s funding announcements for public health must be seen as for what they are—first steps to sustaining Canada’s health care system and its public health infrastructure. Canada’s physicians and the CMA are committed to working with governments and other health care stakeholders to ensure that these financial investments lead to positive and enduring change, and ultimately improved health for all Canadians. RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendation 1 The federal government move quickly to enact legislation to implement the funding and accountability provisions of the First Ministers’ Agreement. The legislation should specify that the $4.5 billion Wait Times Reduction Fund be subject to contribution agreements with the provinces and territories. Recommendation 2 The federal government work with relevant stakeholders to extend interest free status on Canada Student Loans for all eligible health professional students pursuing postgraduate training. Recommendation 3 As part of an effort to ensure that its tax policy is consistent with the goals of its health policy and the sustainability of Canada’s health care system, the federal government should: - increase the GST rebate for publicly funded health care institutions and clinics to 100% ($90 million annually for hospitals) - zero rate GST on publicly funded health services provided by independent health care providers ($75 million annually for medical services). Recommendation 4 The Standing Committees on Finance and Health hold a joint review of the CPP policy as it relates to investments in tobacco (both current and potential) by the CPP Investment Board. II. CMA’S ANNUAL CHECKUP Much has happened over the past year in regards to Canada’s health and health care systems. First, we witnessed the creation of the Health Council of Canada, an institution that can play a significant role in improving the accountability of Canada’s health system. Second, we saw several announcements aimed at rebuilding Canada’s public health system including the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the subsequent appointment of Canada’s first Chief Public Health Officer. And in September, federal, provincial and territorial First Ministers reached a historic agreement on a 10-year plan to strengthen health care. Canadians no doubt welcome these developments. They have made it known to governments and health care providers alike that access to health care has become their top public policy issue. Not surprisingly, health was the top issue during the recent federal election campaign. For four years, the CMA has been tracking Canadians’ assessment of our health care system through our National Report Card on the Sustainability of Health Care. We are sad to report that the number of Canadians giving the nation's health care system a grade of C or F this year increased by a dramatic 9% over last year. While Canadians still give the system an overall B grade, the percentage of C and F grades was the highest since Ipsos-Reid began conducting the survey on behalf of the CMA in 2001. Moreover, our survey results found that 97% agreed that any discussion to make the system more sustainable needs to guarantee timely access for essential health services. As our fact sheet on Canadians’ health and their health care system illustrates (see Appendix A), improving access remains a major challenge for our health care system. Canada has one of the poorest physician-to-population ratios among all OECD countries. It is therefore not surprising that in 2003, 14% of Canadians reported not having a regular family physician (25% in Quebec). A recent Statistics Canada survey on wait times found that the proportion of patients who considered their wait time unacceptable was 17% for non-emergency surgery, 21% for diagnostic tests and 29% for specialist visits. 1 Over the past year, CMA has been very active in bringing attention to the issue of access and wait times. The CMA co-sponsored a colloquium on managing wait times last April that culminated in the recently released report, The Taming of the Queue: Toward a Cure for Health Care Wait Times. 2 But what about the state of Canadians’ health itself? Certainly our health status has improved greatly over the past decades. However, while Canadians are among the healthiest people in the world, citizens in several industrialized countries are enjoying better health status. For example, disability-free life expectancy, that is quality of life years lived, for Canadian males is 18th among the 30 OECD countries and 16th for Canadian females. Canada’s rate of infant mortality—deaths during the first year of life—is among the highest in the OECD. But we need not compare ourselves to other countries to find differences in levels of health status. Significant discrepancies in health status also exist among Canadians, be it between provinces, between regions, between communities or between neighbourhoods. For example, there remain significant inequities in health status between Aboriginal Canadians and non-Aboriginal Canadians—the incidence of hepatitis and tuberculosis among Aboriginal Canadians are five and ten times higher respectively than for other Canadians. It has now been over a year since the Report of the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health or the “Naylor Report” was released. The report has lead to some positive developments in rebuilding Canada’s public health system. It will be needed as some serious public health issues continue to face the country including: * the spread of infectious diseases (e.g., C. difficile bacterium); * the rise in the number of Canadians with unhealthy body weights including rising levels of obesity; * high levels of physical inactivity; * smoking, particularly among youth; * relatively low rates of immunization; and * threats to environmental health including those that threaten our clean air, and safe food and drinking water. In summary, notwithstanding all that has transpired this year, Canadians’ health and their health care system remain high public priorities. While their health status has improved over the past decades, there is considerable room for improvement, some of which can be addressed through public health measures and better access to care. The significant announcements made over the past year related to health system and public health financing are a welcomed start to support health stakeholders in facing these challenges. III. THE FIRST MINISTERS’ MEETING AGREEMENT The CMA closely followed the September 13-15, 2004 First Ministers Meeting on the Future of Health Care. In fact, we worked with our health care colleagues leading up to the meeting to identify possible strategies for improving the system. 3 For instance, we recommended the development and adoption of pan-Canadian benchmarks for wait times based on clinical evidence and the creation of a special Canada Health Access Fund to support Canadians’ access to medically necessary care in other regions. While not all of our proposals were accepted, the September First Ministers’ Meeting Agreement (herein referred to as the FMM Agreement) features many aspects that the CMA has been championing for some time and is certainly a positive achievement. In particular, we are happy to see a desire “to make timely access to quality care a reality for all Canadians.” We applaud the leadership shown by the government in this regard. We also believe that the Agreement provides an opportunity for a new era of cooperative medicare by engaging physicians and other providers meaningfully. Contrary to belief, health care providers have not been offered many opportunities to participate at federal, provincial and territorial planning tables. We therefore welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively on identifying clinically derived wait time benchmarks. Canada’s physicians can and desire to play a significant role in this regard. We therefore believe the FMM Agreement is a necessary first step or “a framework to go with” towards strengthening our health care system. But as we said in September following the release of the Agreement, “the real heavy lifting begins now.” Accordingly, we believe that a number of requirements are necessary to ensure this Agreement fulfills its objectives. We see these requirements as putting words to actions for realizing the full potential of the FMM Agreement. Enact Legislation to Confirm Financial Support and Accountability Provisions The CMA supports enacting federal legislation to confirm the budgetary allocations in the Agreement ($18 billion over 6 years and $41 billion over 10 years). This includes a 6% escalator to the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) that will provide predictable funding for provincial and territorial health care systems. This is a provision that we have been recommending for many years. While $41 billion is a lot of money, we must remind ourselves that this amounts to little more than a 3% increase over 10 years of provincial government health expenditures based on projections of current government spending. Moreover, we estimate that the Agreement will add only .2% to Canada’s spending levels per GDP during this period. In other words, the FMM Agreement, while necessary and appreciated, will not propel Canada into the top echelon of health care spenders among the leading industrialized countries. As health care has become a dominant public policy issue, we expect to see future high level discussions in coming years on both future funding levels and on the direction of health care reform efforts. We are also pleased to see a new Equalization agreement that will complement the FMM Agreement. The Equalization program plays a key role in ensuring that all provinces have adequate and comparable levels of health care and other social services. The issue of Equalization payments to the provinces was identified in discussions leading up to the September First Ministers Meeting over concern that increased federal transfers to health care could be offset by decreases in Equalization payments. The subsequent agreement on Equalization will therefore serve to support the FMM Agreement given that increases in health care transfers to provinces will not be offset by decreases in equalization payments while providing predictable multi-year funding. A strong accountability framework also needs to be included in the legislation. The FMM Agreement specifies several process accountabilities such as a commitment by governments to report on access indicators and establish wait time benchmarks by December 31, 2005. The CMA believes that the Wait Times Reduction Fund should be subject to contribution agreements that specify how provinces and territories will use their share of this fund to reduce wait times. For the Agreement to mean something commitments have to backed up—financial and/or political consequences must follow if commitments are not met. It will be important to have an independent, third party organization assess progress in an open and transparent manner. The Health Council of Canada, identified in the FMM Agreement, could be the body to undertake an annual independent assessment, providing it receives the necessary resources to do so. The Canadian Institute for health Information also has an important role to play in ensuring comparable indicators are used to measure progress. It is essential to involve practicing physicians throughout the implementation of the FMM Agreement, particularly in the development of clinically derived wait time benchmarks. The determination of clinically derived wait time benchmarks means just that—they must be clinically derived and must not be based on political or financial considerations. To this end, the CMA will play a leadership role in developing consensus with physicians and other expert organizations on acceptable wait-time standards and protocols based on the best available clinical evidence. RECOMMENDATION 1 The federal government move quickly to enact legislation to implement the funding and accountability provisions of the First Ministers’ Agreement. The legislation should specify that the $4.5 billion Wait Times Reduction Fund be subject to contribution agreements with the provinces and territories. Improve Access by Addressing Health Human Resources The CMA is pleased to see the First Ministers acknowledge for the first time the current and worsening shortage of health human resources (HHR) in this country. However, the FMM Agreement does not adequately provide a strategy for addressing this crisis beyond the development of health human resources action plans and support for an Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative. The CMA believes that the lack of immediate action on HHR is one area where the Agreement falls short. As noted in our fact sheet, Canada is currently experiencing a shortage in health human resources. Canada’s ratio of 2.1 physicians per 1,000 population remains one of the lowest among OECD countries and below the OECD average of 2.9. Initial results from the 2004 National Physician Survey—the largest census survey of physicians ever conducted in Canada—find that up to 3,800 physicians will retire in the next two years, more than double the existing rate. Furthermore, 26% of physicians intend to reduce the number of hours they work. 4 One must remember that timely access to health care services is first and foremost about the people who provide quality care and the tools and infrastructure they need to meet the growing demand for medical services in Canada. In order for the FMM Agreement to be successful in improving access to care, governments must make health human resources a major priority beginning by ensuring that the Wait Times Reduction Fund is used immediately to address the crisis in health human resources rather than in the last four years of the ten-year Agreement as currently projected. 5 Given the current shortages in health human resources, action on HHR must begin now—not in 2010. In addition, the CMA calls upon the federal government to play a key role in improving the availability of health human resources by developing a pan-Canadian HHR strategy that includes the involvement of health care providers. Specifically, we need a three pronged pan-Canadian HHR strategy that would address: (1) HHR planning; (2) increasing the supply of health professionals; and, (3) retention issues. Planning Despite the large sum of funding that governments invest in health care, they do so without having the benefit of a national long-term health human resources strategy. Canada has 14 provincial/territorial and federal health care systems in operation. Yet, our immigration policies are largely conducted on a national basis and there is a high degree of labour mobility between provinces. Presently, there is no overall national coordinating committee to assist provinces and territories in the planning of health human resources, particularly one that includes all pertinent stakeholders including physicians and other health care professionals. We believe a National Coordinating Committee for Health Human Resources involving representation from health care professions should be established for such purposes—something both the Romanow and Senator Kirby reports recommended. Research is required to support long-term planning in HHR. The CMA has previously proposed the creation of an arm’s length Health Institute for Human Resources (HIHuR) that would promote collaboration and the sharing of HHR research among the well-known university-based centres of excellence as well as research communities within professional associations and governments. Supply Canada’s HHR policy goal should be to ensure Canada is self-sufficient in the supply of physicians and other health care professionals. Several strategies are required to fulfill this goal. They include: * Dedicating a specific fund to increase enrollment in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education (especially re-entry positions). Medical school enrollment should be increased to a minimum of 2,500 positions by 2007. * Expanding the post-MD system to accommodate the increase in graduates for training including the several hundred international medical graduates (IMGs) in Canada who have been deemed eligible for post-MD training here. The goal should be to increase the number of first-year residency training positions to a level of 120% of the graduates produced annually by Canadian medical schools. See Appendix B for how this can be implemented. The estimated cost of adding 500 positions is $75 million over five years. In fact, this government’s election platform included a commitment to provide funding to top-up training for 1,000 foreign trained medical professionals. * Expediting the integration of international medical graduates by funding a fast-track on-line assessment program administered by the Medical Council of Canada. It would determine the suitability and eligibility of IMGs for completion of post-MD training (estimated cost $20 million over 5 years). * Implementing a national strategy to extend the Canada Student Loans interest payment benefit to postgraduate trainees in medicine. High student debt impacts both the kind of specialty that physicians-in-training choose, and ultimately where they decide to practice—making it a key health human resource issue (see box below). The Canadian Medical Association commends the federal government for its commitment to reduce the financial burden on students in health care professions, as announced in the FMM Agreement. Did you know? Becoming a full-fledged, practicing physician is an arduous and expensive endeavor. It requires a minimum of 9 years (6) of post-secondary education and training that is often financed through sizeable government and private loan debt, such as lines of credit. It is estimated that, by the time medical students enter their pre-practice postgraduate training period, many are doing so with a debt of at least $120,000 (7) or more. RECOMMENDATION 2 The federal government work with relevant stakeholders to extend interest free status on Canada Student Loans for all eligible health professional students pursuing postgraduate training. Retention Retention remains a major concern for the health care workforce including physicians. We speak not only in terms of losing physicians to other countries but to other professional pursuits as well (i.e., opportunities away from the front line delivery of care). There is little point in recruiting new physicians at the front end if we lose sight of how to keep them once they are highly skilled and are in their most productive years. Retention issues are crosscutting. Indeed, a major frustration for physicians today are the difficulties faced trying to access other types of care for their patients such as diagnostic testing, specialty care or community services. Thus, improving access to a comprehensive range of health care providers and services and reducing wait times—as previously addressed—can help. We also believe that investments in information technologies (IT) can help improve the coordination of health care and allow physicians to spend more time with their patients to provide quality care. There is currently limited connectivity among community-based physicians, community based services, specialists, hospitals and diagnostic facilities. IT investments can improve the integration of care, improve patient safety and improve the management of wait times. They can link regional and provincial wait time management systems while supporting more comprehensive scheduling systems. Prescriptions can be sent electronically to the local pharmacist while public health warnings can be sent electronically to physicians’ offices. We recognize that investments in IT are already occurring and systems will be put in place over the next decade. However, we believe that by accelerating IT investments today, system efficiencies and savings can be achieved sooner along with improvements to health care delivery and coordination. The application of tax policy to the health care sector is another retention issue that greatly frustrates physicians. This issue is discussed in the next section. Align Tax Policy With Health Policy The CMA continues to advocate for a review of the relationship between federal tax policy and health care policy in Canada. Taxation is a powerful instrument of public policy. Good tax policy should reinforce and support good health care policy. Yet, it has been 40 years since the federal government last undertook an overarching review of Canada’s tax system (the 1962-1966 Royal Commission on Taxation -the Carter Commission). Standard public finance theory suggests that two objectives of effective tax policy are distributive equity and correcting inefficiencies in the private sector. 8 For some time, the CMA has expressed concern over inequities in tax policy and inconsistencies between national health policy goals and tax policy. We are aware that the committee is looking for ideas on tax changes that can lead to a more productive economy. At the same time, we recognize that the government is committed to improving Canadians’ access to health care. Ensuring this country’s tax policy is supporting our health care system is a good way to achieve both objectives. Specifically, the CMA calls on the federal government to remove the application of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the health care sector. Currently, not-for-profit hospital services receive an 83% rebate on the GST they pay on goods and services, while not-for-profit health organizations receive a rebate of 50%. Health care professionals working in free-standing clinics do not qualify for any GST relief (discussed below). The estimated portion of funding paid by hospitals alone back to the federal government in the form of GST revenue is estimated to be $90 million per year. That is the equivalent of the purchase cost of almost 40 MRI machines! The CMA believes that all publicly funded health care services should be spared from having to use scarce health care resources to remit GST and should receive the full GST rebate. Would this be setting a precedent? The answer is “no”. Prescription drugs, a significant proportion of total health care costs, have been zero-rated since 1996. Furthermore, the 2004 federal budget confirmed that municipalities would be able to recover 100% of the GST and the federal component of the harmonized sales tax (HST) immediately. As part of the “MUSH” sector (municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals), we believe the time has come to extend the full rebate to the health care sector. The federal government must stop taxing publicly funded health care. The uneven application of the GST rebate to different health services is also impeding efforts to renew and reorient the delivery of health services. Currently, community-based services such as clinics and nursing homes receive a GST rebate of only 50% while hospitals receive a rebate of 83%. Does it make sense that a nursing home or a home care service should pay more for GST than a hospital, particularly when trying to move to a more accessible community-based system? The variability of GST rebates makes no sense for organizations such as regional health authorities that oversee a range of health services but which pay differing rates. The government acknowledged in its 2003 Budget that there was a need to review how the GST is applied to care settings outside of hospitals. We await this review. Such inconsistencies distort the efficiency of the health care sector yet are relatively simple to address. 9 Physician services, on the other hand, are deemed “tax exempt” under The Excise Act. This means that physicians cannot claim any input tax credits despite the fact they must pay GST on their purchases of equipment, rent and utilities. And unlike other self-employed individuals or small businesses, physicians cannot pass on any of these additional costs as approximately 98% of physician compensation is from government health insurance plans. To date, provincial governments have been unwilling to provide funding to reflect the additional costs associated with the GST (insisting that it is a federal matter). Physicians are not asking for special treatment. They are looking for fairness within the tax system. If physicians, as self-employed individuals, are considered small businesses for tax purposes, then it only seems reasonable that they should have the same tax rules extended to them that apply to other small businesses (i.e., eligibility to receive input tax credits). This is a fundamental issue of tax fairness. In fact, this committee has twice before acknowledged the need to reassess the application of the GST on physician services. 10 The unfair manner in which the GST is applied to the health care sector has been an on-going source of major frustration to the physician community and remains unresolved. We believe that addressing this matter would be helpful in the country’s efforts to retain its physicians. Other self-employed health care providers that provide publicly funded services face a similar problem. RECOMMENDATION 3 As part of an effort to ensure that its tax policy is consistent with the goals of its health policy and the sustainability of Canada’s health care system, the federal government should: - increase the GST rebate for publicly funded health care institutions and clinics to 100% ($90 million annually for hospitals) - zero rate GST on publicly funded health services provided by independent health care providers ($75 million annually for medical services). IV PUBLIC HEALTH: HEALTHY PUBLIC As previously noted, much has happened over the past year with respect to Canada’s public health system. The CMA was pleased to see the creation of the position of Minister of State, Public Health. We commend the Government of Canada for its establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and for its selection of Dr. David Butler-Jones as the new Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. The 2004 Budget’s commitment to approximately $665 million for investments for public health over the next 3 years was also a welcomed announcement. The CMA will provide its full support to work with Dr. Butler-Jones and the Public Health Agency of Canada, Ministers Bennett and Dosanjh to develop a coordinated and integrated plan to manage and improve public health in Canada. These developments certainly represent a good step towards rebuilding the country’s public health system. Address the “Naylor Gap” In spite of these initiatives, it remains essential to remind this government and Canadians that further attention to public health is necessary. As a member of the Canadian Coalition for Public Health in the 21st Century (CCPH21), the CMA calls on the federal government to enhance its financial commitment to the renewal of Canada’s public health system The public health system is a vital component of a sustainable health system by reducing pressures on the health care system and providing a net benefit to society. 11 Two thirds of total deaths in Canada are due to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, lung disease and diabetes (Type II melitus)—many of which are preventable. Investing in public health also makes good economic policy. We have seen in recent years the incredible economic impact that public health outbreaks can have on a country’s economy. For instance, it has been estimated that the SARS outbreak cost the Canadian economy over $1.5 billion in 2003 alone with its impact still being felt. 12 As stated in the Report of the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health (the Naylor Report), “we are constantly a short flight away from serious epidemics.” 13 Accordingly, we were pleased to hear the government’s Speech from the Throne state that the government will proceed with the development of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network. But we have to overcome several years of inattention to public health issues and the public health infrastructure—something that cannot be rectified in a year. Spending levels on public health in Canada are meager. International comparisons are difficult to find and to compare, but it appears that this is one instance where Canada could learn from its neighbour to the south with its higher level of spending on public health (see Box comparing public health spending between Canada and the United States). 14 While the role of public health was referred to in the FMM Agreement, no additional funding for public health was included. Comparing Levels of Public Health Spending: Canada vs. the United States Using data from CIHI and the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the CMA has developed the following comparative estimates of spending on public health in Canada versus the United States in 2002. [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY POPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Canada United States 1. Per capita spending on public health services ($CDN, PPP adjusted) $138 $207 2. Share of spending on public health as a % of public health care spending 5.5% 7.2% 3. Share of spending on public health as a % of total health care spending 3.9% 3.3% [TABLE END] The United States spends approximately 50% more on public health than Canada when comparing per capita payments. The United States also spends more on public health when considering public health spending as a percentage of all publicly funded services (due in part to a proportionately smaller publicly funded sector). Conversely, Canada spends more on public health if looking at the percentage of spending on public health as a percentage of total health care spending. This is due in part to a proportionately larger privately funded sector in the United States. Since public health is predominately a public good paid by governments, we believe it is most appropriate to compare the results from the first two indicators. The Naylor Report estimated that public health in Canada accounted for 2.6% to 3.5% of total publicly funded health expenditures in Canada and 1.8% to 2.5% of total health expenditures. While these estimates are lower than those provided above, they still support our observation that public health spending in Canada is lower than in the United States. The Naylor report provided a blue print for action and reinvestment in the public health system for the 21st century. It estimated that approximately $1 billion in annual funding would be required to implement and sustain the public health programs that Canada requires. In its submission to the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health, the CMA also identified an essential range of comprehensive public health programming and initiatives totaling an estimated $1.5 billion over 5 years. 15 The federal government has thus far committed approximately $665 million in new programming (one-time funding, over 2 years, and over 3 years), well short of Dr. Naylor’s $1 billion per year. This “Naylor Gap” of approximately $450 million per year is identified below in Table A. [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Table A: Estimating “The Naylor Gap” Naylor Funding Recommendations (by 2006-07) Budget 2004 Naylor Gap Public Health Agency of Canada Related Funding - $300 million per year core budget of PPHB and other related federal services to be transferred to new agency - core functions to be expanded by $200 million per year within 3-5 years - $404 million transferred from Health Canada to Agency - $165 million over 2 years to assist in setting up new agency, increase emergency response capacity, enhance surveillance, establish regional centres of excellence, expand laboratory capacity, strengthen international coordination and collaboration $117.5 million per year ($200 million by Naylor minus $82.5 million per year committed by the federal government averaged out). Moreover, nothing earmarked beyond 2005-06. System Funding 3 programs of transfers at a cost of $500 million per year: - $300 million for Public Health Partnerships Program to build capacity at local level - $100 million for communicable disease surveillance - $100 million to bolster national immunization strategy - $100 million (one-time) to Canada Health Infoway to pay for real-time public health surveillance system - $400 million over three years for: - $300 million for national immunization strategy - $100 million for provinces to address immediate gaps in capacity Approximately $333 million per year ($500 million per year request by Naylor less Budget 2004 commitments of $500 million over 3 years or $167 million per year averaged out.) Total: $1 billion per year $404 million annually plus $665 million in new programming (one-time funding, over 2 years, or over 3 years) Total “Naylor Gap”: $450.5 million per year [TABLE END} We acknowledge that the Public Health Agency of Canada is just being created. We also recognize that Budget 2004 noted that: “The Government of Canada expects to make further investments once the new Canada Public Health Agency is operational, the Chief Public Health Officer has developed a comprehensive public health plan, and the Government has had the opportunity to evaluate the need for additional resources.” 16 Nevertheless, it is critical that reinvestment in Canada’s public health system continue as soon as possible to protect and promote the health of Canadians. These additional investments are needed to fully implement Dr. Naylor’s recommendations. This includes operating costs for a real time communication system for front line public health providers during health emergencies. It would ensure a two-way flow of information between front-line health care providers and public health professionals at the local public health unit, the provincial public health department and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The CMA has recently submitted a proposal to Canada Health Infoway to develop a system (the Health Emergency Communication and Co-ordination Initiative) that would link Canada’s physicians with governmental authorities. The additional investments should also be used to help address the recruitment and retention of public health practitioners. 17 In contrast with other areas of health expenditures, we know very little about how public health dollars are allocated and with what results. Presently, public health expenditures are lumped together with some health system administration costs. We believe there is a need for a better tracking and public reporting of public health expenditures. Set and Meet National Health Goals The CMA was pleased to see support by First Ministers in the FMM Agreement to establish a Pan-Canadian Public Health Strategy and health goals that are independently monitored. We believe health goals are a key component in addressing the serious public health challenges that lie ahead. Goals stimulate action and improve system accountability. Unlike Canada, many other countries—including the United States, the UK and Australia—have set health goals for their populations at the national level. At the CMA’s August 2004 General Council meeting, physicians agreed on health goals for physical activity, healthy body weights and obesity (see box below). These goals are already having an effect. Recently, the BC Minister of Health, Colin Hansen, accepted the challenge from the President of the British Columbia Medical Association, Dr. Jack Burak, to increase fitness levels by 10 per cent by 2010. We also need to be more preoccupied with setting, meeting and monitoring environmental health goals. Let us look at drinking water for example. As hard as it may be for Canadians to believe, a safe supply of water is a key health concern for Canadians today just as it was at the turn of the 20th century. The polluting of our water supply—including the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria through the use of antibiotics in human and animal health—and a lack of adequate water treatment infrastructure systems have contributed to the problem. Above all, we as Canadians need to recognize that a large natural supply of water and other natural resources do not eliminate the need for strong environmental governance. Public health officials play an important role in this respect. But it is pointless to set goals without any intention of meeting them. Resources will be necessary to meet the selected health goals such as the training and hiring of public health workers, as well as funding to support public advertising and marketing campaigns. Physical Activity and Healthy Body Weight Goals for Canada (Endorsed at CMA General Council, August 2004, Toronto) The Canadian Medical Association urges all levels of government to commit to a comprehensive, integrated and collaborative national strategy for increasing the physical activity levels of all Canadians, with a target of a 10% increase in each province and territory by the year 2010. The Canadian Medical Association calls on all stakeholders to develop, as an urgent priority, an action plan to address the obesity epidemic in Canada, with a goal of increasing by 15% within ten years the proportion of Canadians who are at a healthy weight. Invest in Health Not in Tobacco Improving health status is more than promoting healthy lifestyle behaviour. A healthy society also requires public policy that supports health (e.g. adequate income and education, proper housing, adequate nutrition, a clean and safe environment.) Tobacco use is a good example of a health risk that has been significantly reduced with the help of public policy measures, such as higher tobacco taxes, continued restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion, and restrictions on smoking in public places. But there remains inconsistency in Canada's public policies—in this case between the investment policies of the CPP Investment Board and Canada's health policy goals. Canadians are very proud of their public pension plan, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). It is a well-supported social program that has been viewed as a best practice model by several countries. Yet, despite the fact that tobacco continues to kill approximately 45,000 Canadians a year and costs Canadian society approximately $11 billion per year in net cost, (18) the Canada Pension Plan holds $94 million worth of tobacco investments. Canada’s physicians see the toll that tobacco consumption creates. We see the physical and mental suffering that tobacco-caused diseases bring to patients and their families. Accordingly, the CMA has consistently recommended a wide range of measures to control tobacco use such as higher tobacco taxes, continued restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion, restrictions on smoking in public places, enforcement of bans on sales to minors, reduction of the level of toxic ingredients in tobacco and the provision of smoking cessation programs. We are pleased with the efforts to date but we are by no means finished in our battle. As our fact sheet shows, there are still segments of the population, particularly among our youth, that have high rates of smoking. The federal government in recent years has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a tobacco reduction strategy that, when combined with efforts being taken by the provinces and municipalities, is making a difference for Canadians. However, the CPP Investment Board is investing and voting as shareholders in a pattern that is inconsistent with both public health policy, and the tobacco reduction measures being implemented across Canada. It is inconsistent and illogical for one arm of government to expend many millions of dollars of public money in an effort to reduce tobacco use, while another arm invests many millions of dollars of money in tobacco companies and supports these companies in their drive to be profitable. Resolution of the Canadian Medical Association General Council, August 2004: …the government amend the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act so that CPP investments in the tobacco industry are prohibited and the CPP Investment Board divests itself of existing tobacco holdings. The CMA is prepared to back up what it is prescribing—MD Management Ltd’s “MD Funds” which are managed for Canada’s physicians has followed this policy for almost ten years. Other major pension and investment plans have successfully followed this policy as well including several US State retirement and pension funds and the American Medical Association Pension Fund. While the CMA clearly believes that the CPP Investment Board should not invest in the tobacco industry and that existing tobacco holdings should be divested, we recognize that this committee might want to look at the matter in greater context to assess its full impact. We suggest that this be done in conjunction with the Standing Committee on Health. RECOMMENDATION 4 The Standing Committees on Finance and Health hold a joint review of the CPP policy as it relates to investments in tobacco (both current and potential) by the CPP Investment Board. IV. CONCLUSION The Finance Committee’s last report on the pre-budget hearings noted that the CMA’s submission identified relatively small, one-time investments that can support the health care system. 19 This year’s submission once again puts forward strategic investments that we believe support Canada’s health policy goals and which serve to effectively implement the FMM Agreement. Our recommendations are also directed at improving the alignment of Canada’s economic policy with its health policy. It is natural to think of an agreement as an end point. But in reality, the FMM Agreement and last year’s funding announcements for public health must be seen as for what they are—first steps to sustaining Canada’s health care system and its public health system. Canada’s physicians and the CMA are committed to working with governments and other health care stakeholders to ensure the financial investments announced over the past year lead to positive and enduring change, and ultimately improved health for all Canadians. END NOTES 1 Claudia Sanmartin et al. Access to Health Care Services in Canada, 2003. Statistics Canada, 2004. 2 Canadian Medical Association. The Taming of the Queue: Toward a Cure for Health Care Wait Times. Discussion Paper. July 2004. Ottawa. 3 CMA, Better Access for Better Health, September 2004; Canadian Healthcare Association, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association, Canadian Pharmacists Association. “Common Vision for the Canadian Health System,” September, 2004. 4 National Physician Survey, “Initial Data Release of the 2004 Physician Survey”, October 2004. 5 A note listed under the funding schedule indicates that moneys flowing to the Wait Times Reduction Fund for health human resources ($250 million for four years) will come only during the final four years of the Agreement. 6 Average duration. Only 2/16 medical schools have a 3 (versus 4) year program. 7 This estimate is based on federal government actual and estimated costs as well as current actual national average tuition fees in undergraduate programs in medicine. Data sources: (1) Statistics Canada, The Daily, April 26, 2004, National Graduates Survey: Student Debt, p. 3. (2) Government of Canada, Canlearn. Saving for your child's education, The projected cost of your child's education. University Tuition. Typical 1996 university cost living away from home: $13,000 - $3,500 tuition = $9,500 x 24% (8 years x 3% inflation cited in reference above) = $11 780. see: http://www.canlearn.ca/financing/saving/guaranteefuture/clcos.cfm?langcanlearn=en (3) Association of Canadian Medical Colleges for tuition 8 For a further discussion of the role of taxation in public policy, refer to Musgrave, Richard A. and Peggy B. Musgrave’s Public Finance in Theory and Practices. 1973. New York: McGraw-Hill. 9 Canadian Medical Association, Tax and Health—Taking Another Look. Discussion Paper, May 2002. 10See Keeping the Balance, 1997 Report of the Standing Committee on Finance; Facing the Future: Challenges and Choices for a New Era, 1998 Report of the Standing Committee on Finance. 11 See for example, Laurie J. Goldsmith, Brian Hutchinson and Jeremiah Hurley, Economic Evaluation Across the Four Faces of Prevention: A Canadian Perspective. (Hamilton: Centre for Health Econoimcs and Policy Analysis, McMaster University), May 2004. 12 The Conference Board of Canada, “The Economic Impact of SARS”, Ottawa, May 2003. 13 Report of the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health, Learning From SARS: Renewal of Public Health in Canada, October 2003. 14 Based on data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (http://www.cms.hhs.gov/statistics/nhe/). 15 Canadian Medical Association, Answering the Wake Up Call: CMA’s Public Health Action Plan. Submission to the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health, June 2003. 16Government of Canada, Department of Finance Canada, The Budget Plan 2004, p. 101. 2004. 17 See Answering the Wake-up Call: CMA’s Public Health Action Plan for other initiatives that should be funded to rebuild Canada’s public health system. 18 Adapted from estimates provided by Murray J. Kaiserman, “The Cost of Smoking in Canada, 1991”, Chronic Diseases in Canada, Vol. 18, No. 1, 1997. Available at http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cdic-mcc/18-1/c_e.html. 19 Report of the Standing Committee on Finance, Canada: People, Places and Priorities, November 2002.

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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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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."

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