Baillie will put patients first and cut DHAs from ten to three
July 18, 2013
HALIFAX, NS – Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie says care for patients with cancer should come before protecting the oversized bureaucracy of Nova Scotia’s health care system.
Today, at The Lodge That Gives, Baillie announced a PC government would improve access to cancer treatment for low-income families by increasing the budget for the Boarding, Transportation and Ostomy (BTO) program to $400,000 and increasing the income threshold to $25,000.
“Nova Scotians should have access to the health care they need, no matter where they live in the province,” said Baillie. “Increasing the threshold will help relieve some of the financial burden on families who need lifesaving cancer treatments.”
The current income threshold for the BTO program has not been changed in 20 years and is currently a family income of $15,720 per year. Last year, $100,000 budgeted for the BTO program was not used because too few people qualified. In 2010, the NDP said it would review the program but that report has never been confirmed or released.
“Some patients are being forced to make life or death decisions, asking themselves do they leave their family in financial ruin or do they get treatment?” said Baillie. “Increasing the threshold will help more families avoid that terrible situation and send a clear message to Nova Scotians that patients are our priority.”
Maynard and Susan Simpson of Economy know firsthand the struggles families face after a cancer diagnosis. They joined Baillie at the announcement today.
In January, Mr. Simpson was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The hard-working couple, who made their living farming, was just $238 over the BTO limit and was denied help. Baillie wrote a letter to Health Minister Dave Wilson on their behalf and the Simpsons never gave up the fight. The family was eventually granted assistance.
Mr. Simpson is now cancer-free, but he says this is no longer about their situation.
“When you’re going through something as traumatic as a cancer, you need to be able to focus on your family,” said Mrs. Simpson. “People should be able to focus on getting well without worrying about how they’re going to put food on the table or gas in the car. That’s really what this boils down to.”
Mrs. Simpson says while her husband is blessed with a clean bill of health, they will not stand idly by.
“We are willing to be the voice for all those families who are left struggling during and after a cancer diagnosis,” says Mrs. Simpson.
A PC government would put patients like Maynard Simpson first and stop wasteful spending in health administration. Baillie says he will start by implementing all the recommendations of the Ernst and Young report and reducing the number of District Health Authorities from ten to three. The new model for health authorities will include one for the capital district and one for rural Nova Scotia, plus maintain the IWK Children’s Hospital as an independent operation. The new PC plan will save an estimated $60 million a year.
“It’s time to get money out of the boardrooms and onto the frontlines of health care,” said Baillie. “It’s not just about merging health authorities, it is about taking the savings and reinvesting it in real services, like the BTO program.”
Baillie says while the NDP defend the status quo, the Liberals want one health super board that would end up ignoring the needs and priorities of rural Nova Scotians.
Input from communities is a key part of a PC government’s reorganization, and community-based volunteer health boards would remain within the new management model.