In the States, that crazed pack of screaming ideologues known as the Tea Party only hate one thing more than the idea that a black man named Barack Obama could be their President and that’s his paltry industry supporting attempt to provide all Americans with healthcare. A plan that subsidizes private insurance company’s and explicitly ISN’T a government provided healthcare system is derided as creeping Stalinism and irony deficient tight lipped teabaggers wave mis-spelled signs demanding Obama keep the government’s hands off of Medicare. Don’t bother pointing out the logic problem there, they wouldn’t understand you anyway.
Here Alberta, the Tea Party’s Canadian wing the Alberta Wildrose Alliance has to be a bit more circumspect about their fervent desire to end Canada’s healthcare system and deliver us into the welcoming arms of the insurance industry. Through gritted teeth they swear allegiance to universal healthcare while making long term plans to kill it as fast as they think they can get away with it.
There’s not much need for scare tactics by supporters of public medicare: Yesterday the Wildrose Party laid out a pretty clear plan for privatizing health care in Alberta.
Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith’s news release touting the idea of a “wait-time guarantee” for medically necessary treatments and procedures is heavy on glittering promises (“Alberta families will have peace of mind”) and short on technical details, but it boils down to a three-part plan for privatization:
- Starve the public system of funds
- Pump public money into for-profit private health care corporations
- Watch a two-tier private system quickly flower as the public sector withers
It’s not a big step from administering public health care in two tiers – a neglected public system and a pampered private sector – to an honest-to-gosh two-tier system in which extra payments get you timely care in a private clinic and lack of cash lets you wait longer and suffer more.
The Wildrose news release claims “we all know from experience” putting more money into health care won’t work. (This statement is false enough on its face to warrant a Wildrose-style “clarification,” perhaps in the form of a “bullying press release.”)
Anyway, how would we Albertans know? After all, at least from the time Peter Lougheed left office until Premier Alison Redford came along, Alberta’s long-governing Progressive Conservative party has been playing pretty much the same game of starving key parts of the system for funds in hopes of creating public support for private “solutions.” And the jury’s still out on what Ms. Redford would be doing were her party not facing an existential crisis thanks to her apparently incompetent re-election strategy.
The only thing is that, up to now at least, the PCs have made a practice of bowing to public pressure to maintain the public health care system whenever voters cottoned on to what they were up to. It’s not so clear what a Wildrose government of hard-right market fundamentalists and raw-meat social conservatives would do if faced by a public backlash.
Remember Danielle Smith is a Fraser Institute alum. An organization dedicated to the idea that the public sector is always bad and people should have to put a quarter in a meter to use a sidewalk. They despise Canada’s system, not least because its a constant reminder that the government does healthcare better than the private sector does south of the border. They view the affection the Canadian public has for our public healthcare system as an existential threat because any example of successful, economical public sector solutions directly contradicts their core premises.
Be very clear Alberta, a vote for the Wildrose is a vote to kill public healthcare, just as fast as they think they can get away with it.