Theatre of the absurd

University of British Columbia health economist Bob Evans is questioning the BC Progress Board's decision to hire a former Fraser Institute staffer to review the funding of British Columbia's healthcare system. The board's senior analyst has said Cythnia Ramsay - whose past reports have recommended privatizing public hospitals and opening the door to parallel private healthcare - was simply the best candidate to do that contract work within its $25,000 budget. The government also cited a presentation she made to the Romanow Commission as justification for she's uniquely qualified to conduct such a review. But, in a letter sent to the government on behalf of the university's Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, Dr. Evans stated that justification is "erroneous to the point of absurdity."

"The lower mainland of B.C. is unusual, perhaps unique in Canada, in its concentration of specialists in health economics and health care policy, all of whom are professionally trained and have had long experience teaching, researching and writing about such policy issues, consulting formally or informally with public bodies (including the Romanow Commission) and communicating with the media," he wrote, citing four examples including himself.

Dr. Evans acknowledged Ms. Ramsay's presentation was part of a collection of Romanow Commission papers published by the University of Toronto. But that commission recommended against private medicine. And one of the editors of that collection, Gregory P. Marchildon, noted the results of research report Ms. Ramsay relied on was "highly contested."

As a result, Dr. Evans urged the BC Progress Board to open up its healthcare funding review work to a competitive bid process. "Failure to do so will mean, inevitably (and justifiably) that questions will arise about political motivations behind this decision, because no other explanation would hold up to even the most cursory scrutiny."

Dr. Evans appeared on Public Eye Radio earlier today to discuss his letter.

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