Moving surgeries from public hospitals to for-profit clinics

An Ottawa Citizen story on the push by the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) to take surgeries out of hospitals and move them to private clinics claims that the McGuinty Liberals have already signalled their intention, if re-elected, to pay hospitals less for some publicly insured medical services.

The report adds: "That raises the possibility that some hospitals could simply stop providing procedures with high overhead costs and low demand, resulting in more of that work being transferred to specialized clinics."

The Liberal Health Minister responded positively when the OMA raised the idea of moving work out of hospitals and into private clinics in July. She stated: "We're not opposed...We support the need to deliver services in the community. That's why we have a lot more dialysis, for example, out of hospitals. It's really all about getting the right balance."

The right balance? The Liberals have already increased funding for these private clinics (formally called "Independent Health Facilities) 82% since they were first elected. (Funding for the docs went up even more: 87%.) The Citizen reports there are now about 1,000 of these private clinics across the province, most of them for-profit.

A thousand small, private clinics will be much harder to organize than the existing 160 hospitals. And once organized, it will take years and years to return wages and working conditions up to the hospital level. So unionized workers earning a fair wage will be replaced by non-unionized workers earning less. Which is probably the main part of this game.  

I'm betting, however, that the new owners will turn a tidy profit.

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