Another tale of government-run health-care success
posted at 8:48 am on March 10, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
How will our health-care system run once the government is in charge of it? People who have VA or Medicare already know the answer to that — and so do the people of Canada, whose model received warm praise from Barack Obama and leading Democrats early in the ObamaCare campaign. The Toronto Sun reports the story of Kent Pankow, whose brain cancer spread while their medical system tried to decide whether surgery fit within their comparative effectiveness models, and who ended up here in Minnesota in an effort to save his life. Now Canada won’t fill his prescription for a drug that they supply for other patients (via Newsalert):
Kent Pankow lives in Edmonton, in a province and a country that is trying to either kill him or bankrupt him.
No sense mincing words.
Suffering from brain cancer, Kent Pankow was literally forced to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. for lifesaving surgery — at a cost to family and friends of $106,000 — after the health-care system in Alberta left him hanging in bureaucratic limbo for 16 crucial days, his tumour meanwhile migrating to an unreachable part of the brain, while it dithered over his case file, ultimately deciding he was not surgery worthy.
Now, with the Mayo Clinic having done what the Alberta Cancer Board wouldn’t authorize or even explain, but with the tumour unable to be totally removed, the province will now not fund the expensive drug, Avastin, that the Mayo prescribed to keep him alive and keep the remaining tumour from increasing in size — despite the costs of the drug being totally funded by the province for other forms of cancer.
Kent Pankow, as it turns out, has the right disease but he has it in the wrong place.
Had he lung cancer, breast cancer, or colon cancer, then the cost of the drug — $4,555 per treatment, two times a month — would be totally covered by Alberta’s version of OHIP.
Let’s see if we can’t tally up the scandals in this story. First, instead of rushing Pankow into surgery, doctors waited more than two weeks to decide whether he was “surgery worthy.” Obviously, this was not a medical decision, as the Mayo Clinic didn’t take two weeks to make a medical decision on Pankow.
Next, Pankow returns to Canada to continue his treatment, having saved Alberta the $106,000 cost of surgery by bearing it himself, and asks for a cancer drug that is fully covered for other forms of the disease. In his case, though, the government won’t provide it. Why? Not because doctors don’t believe it to be safe or effective, but because government bureaucrats decided to leave it off the list. Nor is that the end of bureaucratic bungling. After CTV aired a segment on the plight of the Pankows, the Federal Health Minister claimed that Health Canada wasn’t the problem, while Alberta’s provincial health minister insists that the problem is at the national level. Instead of treating Pankow, he’s getting the bureaucratic runaround.
Some will say that the runaround happens in America, too, with private insurers. And they’d be right. However, people in America have the ability to move to different insurers when they get lousy service, and still get treatment in their own country. They don’t have to flee across an international border to get medical attention.
Kent Pankow wants to fight his cancer so that he can survive. Unfortunately, he’s having to fight a two-front war, with his own government trying their level best to help the cancer succeed. Maybe when Obama offers up the sob stories on the ObamaCare stump, he might consider discussing the Pankows and why people come to the US for lifesaving treatment. In the meantime, let’s remember this as an object lesson in who says no in a government-run health-care system.