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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Socialized Medicine a Human Rights Violation?

Canada has a problem. Its government-run health system is deadly. Now Canada's Supreme Court has ruled that the system's long waiting lists violate the Quebec charter of human rights and freedoms.

More from the New York Times:
The Canadian health care system provides free doctor's services that are paid for by taxes. The system has generally been strongly supported by the public, and is broadly identified with the Canadian national character. Canada is the only industrialized county that outlaws privately financed purchases of core medical services.

But in recent years patients have been forced to wait longer for diagnostic tests and elective surgery, while the wealthy and well connected either sought care in the United States or used influence to jump medical lines.

The court ruled that the waiting lists had become so long that they violated patients' "life and personal security, inviolability and freedom" under the Quebec charter of human rights and freedoms, which covers about one-quarter of Canada's population.

"The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public health care system are widespread, and that, in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care," the Supreme Court ruled. "In sum, the prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services."
On January 12, 2005, Senator Ted Kennedy called for an expansion of Medicare to cover every man, woman and child in the United States -- government care from cradle to grave.

Waiting lists, an inherent weakness in government-run health care systems and a core issue addressed in the Canadian Supreme Court's decision, are not even mentioned in Kennedy's speech. Should Senator Kennedy ever succeed in getting his government health care proposal adopted, he'll find the issue is not so easily ignored in the real world.

Addendum, 6/14: The Heritage Policy Blog has additional facts and commentary on this issue here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:10 AM

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