Health Talk: heading into 2010
Published in MapleLine Magazine: Feb.3, 2010
by John Horgan, MLA for Juan de Fuca
2010 residential care & MSP
When we're feeling sick, the first thing most of us do is visit our GP or local walk-in clinic. It’s the place we go for most of our everyday health needs and all of us have access, regardless of our age, occupation, income or heritage. It’s community based and it’s the first point of contact to the health care system, sometimes resulting in referrals to specialists or diagnostic services such as tests or x-rays. It’s commonly known as ‘primary care’.
A recent trend has been to create Primary Care Networks – these are multi-disciplinary teams that work together to support the health of a patient. A great local example of this is located in our backyard.
The Sooke Integrated Health Network (IHN) supports and improves the health and quality of life of anyone 19 years or over living in the Sooke Region who is managing a chronic disease. The Network is a partnership between a patient, their family physician and other health care providers that may include nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, specialist physicians, and community agencies. This team works together to support the health and chronic disease management of the patient.
The Sooke IHN has made it a top priority to make their work as community-focussed as possible, partnering with six groups to provide services to IHN clients. The local Canadian Diabetes Association provides cooking sessions, the T-Souke Nation offers culturally-appropriate healthy living and eating activities, the SEAPARC Leisure Complex provides passes, Edward Milne Community School is the location for a weight loss program, and the Sooke Family Resource Society assists with workshops.
These groups which provide a supportive community environment and appropriate community-based services, should be commended for their work. In fact, together they have the highest utilization rate of the community support services out of the 7 IHNs on the Island.
I’d like to see more of these partnerships, supporting not only individuals experiencing a chronic disease, but all primary care patients who would benefit from such a network. This is especially important in rural communities, where easy access to a variety of health care providers can be challenging. If the providers can be brought together, our communities will be healthier. And that benefits everyone.
But instead of focusing energy and resources on primary care capacity in communities like Sooke, health authorities have been reducing services and looking for more revenue. Due to the $2.8 billion provincial budget deficit, the government is now undertaking massive cutbacks. One area that’s been hit is the provincial health budget and seniors are being targeted as a source of additional revenue, many who are barely making ends meet right now.
Beginning January 1, Health Minister Kevin Falcon started taking $54 million out of the pockets of seniors in residential care, most of whom have low to modest incomes. This revenue grab leaves many patients without the means to pay for prescriptions, personal affects, and basic needs while they receive the lowest standard of care in the nation.
Why is this happening? A new rate structure came into effect on New
Year’s Day that increased fees for 75% of seniors in residential care. A
senior whose before-tax income is $22,000 will be required to pay close
to an additional $2,000 – or approximately 10% of net income – to be in
a residential care
facility. This is unacceptable. And it’s only the latest in a series of
policy decisions that has left seniors feeling vulnerable
Finally, if you think your MSP premiums have gone up you are correct. Starting Jan.1 premiums for an individual will go up three bucks, a family of four will pay another eight dollars. Expect a similar increase next January as well. I’ve heard from some seniors and their family members from across the region about the impact of these fee increases. If you or a family member is experiencing hardship due to these increased fees, please contact my community office and share your story. MM
MapleLine Business Centre - Fax, scan and copy while you wait. Meeting space for small groups and business seminars. 6707 West Coast Road (across from Peoples Drug Mart), Sooke, BC. Phone: 250-642-7729 or toll-free 1-877-595-6925. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was published on page 24 in the print edition of MapleLine Magazine (Winter-Spring 2010 issue / Feb-Apr.2010).