TORONTO Using private, for-profit hospitals to treat Canada's ailing health care system could have costly side effects, including dwindling quality and a sharp increase in medicare fraud.
So says the Vancouver-based Tommy Douglas Research Institute, a nonprofit lobby group, in a letter to Ontario Premier Mike Harris released Friday.
Harris rekindled a national debate last week when he suggested the private sector should be examined as a possible low-cost hospital operator working within the confines of the public system.
But the U.S. experience has demonstrated that with private-sector involvement comes a decline in the quality of care and a greater danger of fraud, the institute says in its letter.
Harris told a Toronto political affairs show last week that a mounting health-spending crisis demands that governments consider allowing private companies to run hospitals and deliver medical services on behalf of existing provincial insurance plans.