Magazine article USA TODAY

Looking to Canada for Health Care Reform

Magazine article USA TODAY

Looking to Canada for Health Care Reform

Article excerpt

The landmark Canadian Supreme Court ruling in Chaoulli v. Quebec may stifle recent efforts to expand government control over health care in the U.S., contends a study from the Cato Institute, Washington, D.C., which dismisses the assumption that compulsory, universal health coverage is the key to universal access and equality of care.

Jacques Chaoulli, the study's author as well as a physician and lead counsel in the case, maintains that, '"co the extent that Canada has achieved equality in health care at all, it has done so ... through a 'leveling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation.'"

In Chaoulli, the court ruled that the nation's Medicare program 'violated Canadian patients' rights to 'life, liberty, and security of person'" by subjecting them to unreasonable, "intentional" and, in some cases, fatal waiting periods for treatment. The average waiting period of 17.7 weeks for surgery results from the state-run health care system's failure to meet the needs of all patients. Since Canada's Medicare monopoly effectively has outlawed any private health insurance, Chaoulli was forced to watch many of his patients suffer.

Chaoulli hopes this case will serve as a model for overturning other harmful government restrictions on patients' rights. …

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