A Few Random Thoughts

Disclaimer:  As always, just a reminder that while I am President-Elect of the OMA, the opinions in the blog are mine, and not necessarily representative of either the OMA as a whole.  I just like to tell people what I’m thinking.

Changes at the Ministry of Health (MOH)

Interesting change at the MOH.  Nancy Naylor, who was the second in command, has left the Ministry.  She is going over to the Ministry of Education.  I had the opportunity to work (briefly) with Ms. Naylor when I was on the executive of the Section of General and Family Practice.  I found her to be a very knowledgeable person and easy to work with.  I certainly wish her well.

However, as my loyal fans (both of them) know, I don’t particularly believe in co-incidences (Bob Bell suddenly “retired” when the Liberals lost?  Yeah, right).  At the MOH Ms. Naylor was the person the LHINs reported to.  Leaving that role during a transitional period is very curious timing.  Given that Premier Ford has instituted a hiring freeze on bureaucrats, that means that the LHINs don’t currently report to any one other than new Deputy Minister Helen Angus.  Frankly, looking after the LHINs as well as doing everything else the Deputy is required to do is a lot to ask.  Unless (and this is pure speculation on my part) this foreshadows the long hoped for elimination of the bureaucratic quagmire that are known as LHINs.  Be interesting to see how this plays out over the next couple of months.

Changes at the Canadian Medical Association (CMA)

This week, the CMA is holding it’s annual general meeting.  Dr. Gigi Osler takes over as President.  I had the pleasure of meeting her (however briefly) at the OMA Annual General Meeting in April.  Dr. Osler is a remarkable woman with more accomplishments in her pinky finger than I have in my whole body.  That the CMA is going to be led by her this year is unquestionably a benefit for the organization (given all their troubles this past year) and for physicians across the country.  Dr. Osler is an incredibly passionate advocate for physicians health and well being, and we are all lucky to have her speak out on such an important topic.

I do wonder how she is going to handle the internal politics of the CMA.  Based on the interview given by outgoing President Dr. Laurent Marcoux, it really seems to me that the old guard at the CMA (which still populates much of the Board and management) really doesn’t understand just how much they’ve alienated their members.  You would think the uproar created by their flawed “Vision 2020” mandate, not to mention the sale of MD Management, would have made them at least reflect on their path.  Physicians need a national advocacy association that places their interests first.  I hope the CMA recognizes that Dr. Osler’s popularity is because she speaks to that need, and that the old guard doesn’t try to silence her.

More Thoughts on the Strike in Thunder Bay

The strike at the Port Arthur Clinic was finally settled last week, after a bitter, acrimonious period that included a fence being put up, and criminal activity being committed by somebody.

I still worry about what this means long term for the Port Arthur Clinic.  They are all human beings there, and I can’t imagine that it will be easy for them to get back to work. It certainly will take years for the trust to rebuild.  I suspect, sadly, that we haven’t heard the last out of issues coming from this clinic.  I hope that first and foremost, the patients get the care they deserve.

Ontario Medical Association (OMA) Becoming More Outspoken

It’s been a couple of turbulent years at the OMA.  However, it’s nice to see that the leaders of Association speaking out more and more on physicians issues.  It started last year when Dr. Shawn Whatley was President and he advocated strongly for physicians first.  Through his many blogs (which are required reading for anyone interested in medical politics) and his multiple TV and radio appearances, he really got the ball rolling.   His simple mantra that you can’t improve health care by disparaging physicians, while self evident, really struck a chord and needed to be said.

This year of course, we have the incredible Dr. Nadia Alam.  Another ridiculously accomplished young physician, she has moved quickly on her belief that the OMA must defend physicians when they are attacked, and defend patients when their care is compromised.  This was most recently seen in her quick reaction to the strike in Thunder  Bay.  Whether in the news, or her personal blogs, she has repeatedly been speaking out on issues where physicians voices are compromised.

While there is still much more to be done at the OMA, it’s refreshing to see that the organization is speaking out on areas like this.  It means I have huge shoes to fill next year, but I can honestly say I’ve been inspired by the actions of the last two Presidents.

 

Health Care Will Suffer in Owen Sound, Thunder Bay For Years

“That’s the thing about trust. It’s like broken glass. You can put it back together, but the cracks are always visible–like scars that never fully heal.” 
Hope Collier

A fifteen year old comes to my office.  She’s pregnant.  She’s petrified because her mom and one of my staff are good friends, and her mother doesn’t know.

A thirty year old man, with a long history of mental illness finally admits he was sexually assaulted as a child.  He didn’t tell me sooner as the abuser worked with the husband of one of my employees.

A couple is having marital problems.  There are affairs and now sexually transmitted diseases involved.  They’re trying to work it out, but were scared to seek help as one of my staff goes to the same Church.

I’ve seen all of this, and much more, practicing medicine in a smaller centre.  I would not have been able to manage these tricky situations if it had not been for the trust that I have in my staff.  Like all family physician’s staff, mine have access to a great deal of personal information.  I cannot effectively do my job without implicitly trusting them to ensure that confidential information stays confidential.  I rely on them to skillfully do tasks I assign them for patient care.  But I also trust the judgement that they have about certain situations and certain patients (they have a wealth of social knowledge that is invaluable to me).

This implicit trust is the hallmark of a high functioning health care team.  Each member of the team is valuable, and each carries out their duties, knowing the other member will carry out theirs.  This does not mean that we always agree on everything.  Healthy discourse is important.  But it means that at the end of the day, we know we will act in a patient’s best interests.

Which brings me back to the miserable situations in Owen Sound and Thunder Bay.  In Owen Sound, to try to make up for his failure as a leader, OPSEU President Warren “Smokey” Thomas wrote to the College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSO) to complain about the alleged tactics used by the physicians in the dispute.  Let’s be clear, when you complain to the CPSO, you are threatening a physician’s career.  A complaint should only be made in an egregious situation (for example sexual assault) and not over a pay dispute.  Smokey himself is a nurse.  He should have known this.

The situation in Thunder Bay is worse.  Last week, under the leadership of Unifor President Jerry Dias:

Ontario Medical Association President Dr. Nadia Alam, stated that over 1,000 appointments were cancelled.  Many had travelled 100s of kilometres.  Many had been waiting for months for their appointments due to the severe lack of specialists in the North.  Cutting the power caused loss of vaccines and, as the only fertility clinic from Sudbury to Winnipeg, also a loss of sperm and egg samples.

Eventually, these disputes will end one way or another.  But what will never, ever be the same, is the trust between physicians in these clinics and the staff.  How are the doctors in Owen Sound going to trust employees who threatened to end their careers?  We are not talking about large corporations that make widgets where workers on the line never meet their boss.  We are talking about smaller, intimate offices where everybody knows everybody.

In Thunder Bay how exactly are the doctors there supposed to trust employees whose actions, however indirectly, led to alleged assaults, physical threats and intimidation and vandalism?  Unifor is denying responsibility for the vandalism, and no doubt will disavow assault/harassment as a tactic, but the blunt reality is that without the fence, none of the other stuff would have happened.  No wonder a number of physicians are considering leaving Thunder Bay.

Worse, what does this mean for the type of health care that is going to be provided in these areas?  The patients of Ontario have a right to high quality health care.  As mentioned, when there is no trust within a team, health care will suffer.

The stories of Owen Sound and Thunder Bay have gone viral in the medical community.  Both areas are short of doctors.  How they will now recruit new physicians in the current environment is beyond me.  The reality is that physicians are fortunate to have multiple options when they choose an area to practice.  Why would any sane person go to these toxic environments?  How will Thunder Bay replace physicians who leave?  The stench from these messes will take years to fix.

The biggest losers are the employees of these clinics.  They made a legitimate request for raises and improved working conditions.  Unfortunately, they put their faith in two Union men, who clearly didn’t have a clue about how health care offices work.  They used tactics more suited for factories, not physicians offices.  The tactics have failed miserably (four months and no contract yet).  In Owen Sound, 40% of the employees have quit, recognizing Thomas’ inability to get the job done.  In Thunder Bay, if physicians leave, there will be job losses amongst employees there as well.  Worse, the employees will be blamed for worsening access to health care, if doctors do leave.

The employees of these clinics deserve strong, effective and appropriate representation.  Sadly for them, they are not getting it from OPSEU and Unifor.

Nightmare in Thunder Bay

Not a full blog this time.  But for those of you who don’t follow me on twitter (@drmsgandhi), I just wanted to bring your attention to two blogs.  Both deal with the deteriorating situation in Thunder Bay where a union (in this case Unifor) has, as a result of their actions, denied health care to over a 1000 patients.  Many of these patients were elderly, and many had waited months for a specialist appointment.

The first blog is by the President of the Ontario Medical Association, Dr. Nadia Alam, and can be read here.

The second is by the Past President of the Ontario Medical Association, Dr. Shawn Whatley, and it can be found here.

I encourage you to read both of them.

View at Medium.com

“Smokey” Thomas Fails His Members

Authour’s Note:  Once again, I would like to state that while I am President-Elect of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), I have not spoken with any of the Family Doctors in Owen Sound about this situation.  I did email them to ask permission to write this.  All of my thoughts are strictly based on reports in the media, and news releases (all of which are hyperlinked).

Last week I had suggested that Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) President Warren “Smokey” Thomas should change his approach on how he dealt with physicians in union disputes.  Sadly, Smokey has doubled down on his tactics.  In doing so, not only has he utterly and completely failed his members, but he risks endangering health care in Owen Sound.

In Owen Sound (population ~ 21,000) there are 22 family doctors who have organized themselves into a Family Health Organization (FHO).  The FHO is a fairly common payment model that consists essentially of a salary and performance bonuses.  Like all other payment models the FHO models experienced years of deep cuts to their budgets during the desultory tenure of Premier Kathleen Wynne.  Cuts to physician payments, mean cuts to patient services.  Hence, the FHO focused on controlling expenses as best it could.

The staff at the FHO chose to unionize (which is their right) but unfortunately chose to do so under OPSEU, and became Local 276.  OPSEU and Smokey have absolutely no experience in dealing with intimate small office settings, and the necessary collegiality that is essential to providing high quality front line care.  As a Family Doctor, you MUST trust everyone from the receptionist, to the nurse and even the cleaning staff.  While disagreements occur, and are often healthy, the trust cannot be compromised, or patient care will suffer.

Smokey and OPSEU’s lack of experience showed almost immediately. Their bargaining team agreed to a contract and recommended it for approval to the FHO staff in May.  That’s right folks, OPSEU actually reached an agreement.  But the agreement was rejected by the FHO staff, a clear repudiation of OSPEU’s leadership.

This appears to be when Smokey went off the rails.  He (and OPSEU) could have taken a hard look at themselves and asked a simple question – “How could we be so out of touch with the members we represent, to have endorsed a deal they rejected off hand?”. But they didn’t.  Instead, in what seems to be an effort to prove to their members that they really are relevant, they doubled down and started hurling insults and threats.   Doctors were “punch drunk with greed” they screamed.

The FHO staff then went on strike, and the results appear to be disastrous for them.  Firstly, OPSEU should have told them that doctors office are not factories that make sprockets and cogs.  They provide essential medical services and they cannot be shut down.  The physicians continued to work, with legally allowable replacement staff (albeit at reduced levels).  All a picket line would do is harass patients, and that won’t win you public support.

Reports of harassment and even a serious medical event involving a replacement worker appeared, although it’s unverified.  Again, instead of stopping to think “What exactly are we accomplishing here?” Smokey, doubled down, increased his insults to physicians, demanded that the Health Minister and Owen Sound Town Council get involved (he failed miserably).  He also made a ludicrous allegation that physicians were “private and for profit”. Has Smokey not read the Canada Health Act?  Physicians haven’t been private since 1984.

Apparently, ten of the 30 FHO staff got wise to what a lousy job Smokey and OPSEU were doing, and actually quit their jobs.  Yet another opportunity for OPSEU to reflect on their own failures as a bargaining agent.  But yet again, Smokey lashed out, this time by asking the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) to get involved.

Let’s be clear, the letter written by OPSEU is a collection of hearsay without naming any one physician. As such, it cannot possibly be investigated by the CPSO.  If they were to do so, it would diminish the already poor standing the CPSO has in the eye of most physicians, and would send a pall over the entire profession. They would almost certainly faced increased calls from physicians to lose self-regulation if there was anything other than a cursory “thank you, but this is outside of our purview” type response.

But the reality also is that a letter to regulatory body like this takes you beyond any hope of restoring trust in your team.  It’s the one thing that has potential to destroy careers. It’s the one action that essentially screams “irreconcilable differences”.  By going down this road, in what seems to be a desperate attempt to prove his worth, Smokey has caused a toxic meltdown to the point where there is no hope of a resolution.

The members of OPSEU Local 276 would do well at this point to really ask themselves if this is the kind of leadership they signed up for.

Nothing Wrong With Advocating For Physicians

Authour’s note:  This opinion piece of mine was published in the Medical Post.  However, many physicians are unable to access that as you need a dedicated account.  I’ve reproduced it here.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has been embroiled in controversy this past year.  It first started with the announcement of “Vision 2020”, the new strategic plan for the CMA. What’s the first priority of the plan? “Consistently bring a patient perspective to the work of the CMA.”  The second priority?  “Engage in courageous, influential and collaborative dialogue and advocacy.”

This all sounds nice, and politically correct and oh so socially conscious.  Except for one thing.  The CMA is supposed to represent physicians and their needs.  That’s the whole reason for its existence.  Instead, physician representation is third on the priority list, and even there, it’s couched in phrasing like “based on empowering and caring for patients, promoting healthy populations and supporting a vibrant medical profession.”

From the perspective of the CMA’s leaders, I suppose the needs of the general membership don’t really matter.  The recent sale of MD management to ScotiaBank has provided the CMA with a significant amount of revenue.  So much so that they likely don’t even need members anymore.  It’s worthwhile noting that the first $15 million from the sale has been earmarked for a building for health care innovation, as opposed to, you know, a program to look at the alarmingly high burnout rates of physicians.  Certainly the changes made at CMA Governing Council (no more motions to direct the organization) prevent the CMA Board paying attention to silly little things, like the duly elected representatives of physicians across the country.  (NB – it would be unfair of me not to acknowledge that at least the General Membership will be able vote on all the Board members for the CMA.  However, I’m curious to see what the criteria are for becoming a candidate for CMA Board).

There is similar pressure to advocate for patients and health care policy, being placed on the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), particularly on social media.  Recently the OMA has been asked by various physicians to:

– sign letters opposing the separation of children from parents of migrants

– condemn the changes to sexual education curriculum made by Premier Doug Ford’s government

– speak out against the pause to Vaping rules, also made by Doug Ford’s government

– express concerns about the health care for trans gender patients

– and a bunch more.

There are merits to all of those causes (the separation of children from parents is the one I feel strongest about – it’s just child abuse). There is also the argument that physician’s organizations should use their authority to advocate for social issues, as it increases our standing in the eyes of the public and makes us “leaders”. This enhanced standing will supposedly help us when we advocate for ourselves.  The cynics, especially those of us burnt by the previous Ontario government will strongly disagree with this.

But here’s the thing, there are so many good causes out there to advocate for.  And they will keep coming.  How should the OMA, which unlike the CMA, continues to need broad member support, choose?

There is already disagreement about vaping rules/sex ed curriculums and so on.  What happens when the OMA is presented with information about the poor health care Rohingyan women receive?  Or the damage the contaminated water in Flint Michigan has caused?  Or if you want controversy, how about the malnutrition and mental health issues suffered by Palestinian children?  The OMA is supposed to represent 40,000 members with a diverse range of views, not just those who are motivated by one particular issue.

Many Provincial and Territorial Medical Associations (PTMAs) offer media training and advocacy courses.  The OMA for example, has long been asking physicians to become advocates.  Perhaps rather than criticizing on social media, those who feel passionately about various issues can receive the training to allow them to become leaders in their areas of interest.  They can then directly get their message across to the public and work for whatever their cause is.  They are still doctors, and they will still be seen in the public’s eye as doctors taking a lead on health care issues.

As for the PTMAs is it really too much to ask that they focus on membership advocacy first and foremost?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with advocating for meaningful action on high burnout rates, fair contracts and improved working conditions with less interference from bureaucracy.  It’s what these organizations are supposed to do.  The simply reality is that you cannot have a high functioning health care system without happy, healthy and engaged physicians.  Surely advocating for the same is not unreasonable.

Smokey Should Put Out Fires, Not Start Them

I’ve had the pleasure of being a doctor for 28 years now.  I’ve long since appreciated that in order to provide the best care to patients, members of a health care team (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, allied health care providers and yes, even clerical support staff) must trust each other, and must work collegially and co-operatively.  Without that collegiality, the team fractures and the patients suffer.

This is why many physician leaders over the past few years have  advocated for more funding for Nurses, PSWs and other front line health care workers.  I’ve seen first hand how nurses and PSWs go above and beyond for patients.  My patients need positive, happy, engaged allied health care providers to serve their needs.

Unfortunately the recent actions of OPSEU president Warren “Smokey” Thomas and Unifor President Jerry Dias (both old school union types) show a total disregard for health care teams and patients.  They have reacted to some sort of labour dispute amongst the staff of the Owen Sound Family Health Organization (or FHO) and the owners  (essentially about twenty family doctors), by using old school divisive union tactics that may have a place in private business – but will hurt the patients of Ontario.

First, a full disclosure.  While I happen to be President Elect of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), I actually don’t know any of the doctors in the FHO in Owen Sound.  I’m also not familiar with the situation there, other than what I read in the media and press releases.

But I do know that doctors have been warning that cutting patient services, like the Liberal Government did unilaterally, would cut staff and even close clinics.  Cutting physician funding is a cut to physician clinics, patients services and the staff who work there.

This is why it is so irresponsible Smokey and Dias to publicly shame physicians who own the clinics on social media.  I will not include a copy of OPSEU’s Facebook ad, but it basically implores people to “Tell the doctors….to get back to the table with a decent offer.  They can afford it.”  Then a list of all the doctors in the FHO is provided.  Smokey and Dias are now calling on patients to make an appointment with their doctors, to advance a political agenda.  At a time of wait lists and family doctor shortages, that is an appointment that could have, and should have, gone to a sick patient

Targeting employers is an old union tactic.  There are always ads from Unions advocating for membership on radio, TV and the internet.  But doctors are not big for-profit business. They’re not big box stores. They’re not giant corporations. They do this work because medicine is a calling. That’s why so many are offended by these ads.

Smokey and Dias also think suggesting doctors don’t know what they’re doing is a good idea.  They’ve spearheaded the “Without us, your doctor is just guessing” campaign which suggests that physicians can’t diagnose a disease based on, you know, talking to and examining a patient.  Can you just imagine what would happen if the Ontario Medical Association were to launch a campaign that said “Without Doctor’s Orders, Nurses Would Have No Direction?”.  (NB – The OMA won’t do that, we have too much respect for the nurses).

Suggesting that physicians work in “for profit clinics” that are analogous to private care (when everything is publicly funded) is another ridiculous statement.  Again, this is basically an old union tactic.  Go after “the rich” and “greedy capitalists.”  Use the politics of division to frame your members as the “have-nots”, the “poor” and the “oppressed” to garner public sympathy.  Embarrass the corporations into giving you what you want.  It may work in the real private sector, but these kinds of derogatory comments are only going to harm health care, and their own members.

Firstly, all health care workers, including physicians, are paid by the government of Ontario via your tax dollars. Obviously some workers (even some physicians) are salaried, some get a portion of physicians billings and some are on a bit of a hybrid model, but the money all comes from the same spot.

Secondly, Not sure how what Smokey’s long term strategy is, but is seems to me that attacking allies that have advocated for more funding for front line health care workers (OPSEU MEMBERS!) isn’t a great idea. Maybe Smokey is taking a page out of the Donald Trump school of leadership.

Thirdly, I don’t think Smokey and Dias have considered the damage that will be done to patient care.  Care teams for patients (particularly in family physicians offices) are smaller, more intimate and absolutely must work well together for patients to receive optimum care.  By using such divisive tactics in a small office they are sowing dissent and mistrust.  It’s really hard to see how trust will be rebuilt in the future.

Health care in Ontario has been in a crisis for many years know.  For the sake of the patients, physicians and allied health care workers need to work cordially and co-operatively to promote optimum health care planning for Ontario.  Smokey and Dias have started a bit of dumpster fire with their actions.  It’s a pity they don’t realize that.

 

 

 

Why Universal Pharmacare Is Doomed

“Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.” – Milton Friedman

First, let’s get something out of the way.  I support the concept of Universal Pharmacare. From a basic human standpoint, I’ve seen many patients who cannot afford prescription medications go without them. It’s awful to see their health deteriorate when treatment could have been available.  Providing a social safety net is part of the Canadian ethos.  It’s almost un-Canadian to not have Pharmacare when places like Australia and pretty well all of Western Europe have it.

From a purely fiscal point of view, Pharmacare makes even more sense.  People who develop complications from untreated illnesses cost the health care system much more. Additionally, there are significant cost savings because a Canadian Pharmacare program will allow for bulk purchasing of drugs, which lowers costs.  It will also reduce the cost of running a business in Canada, thus helping the economy.

Currently Health Care is considered to be a Provincial responsibility,  and every Province has its own Drug Benefit Program for seniors and those on social assistance. Which of course means that each Province has their own formulary (the list of drugs that are covered by the provincial drug plan) and there are some differences. Ontario, for example, doesn’t provide coverage for some of the newer Cancer drugs that many Western Provinces do. Having a Canada wide formulary will mean we can fix these regional discrepancies and provide equitable treatment for all Canadians.

But if it Pharmacare is such a great idea, why is it doomed to failure?

For the same reasons that so many good ideas die in Canada – politicians and bureaucracy.  You see, politicians can’t see beyond their next election cycle, and their need for votes.  Bureaucrats can’t see beyond the need to perpetuate their own organizations and protect their own jobs.  It’s a toxic combination that has vexed health care in Canada for decades.

To understand this, let’s look at what should happen to make Pharmacare a success.  The federal government should come up with a Canada wide formulary.  This part shouldn’t be too hard; there are likely many commonalities between the varying Provincial formularies, and coming up with a list of necessary drugs should be easy.

Then the Canadian government should form a central agency, to negotiate a price and pay pharmaceutical companies for these medications.  In essence, Ottawa should take over the role of the Provincial drug formularies and establish one Canada-wide plan.

In order to pay for this, the Canadian government should reduce transfer payments to the Provinces by the amount of money they spend on their own programs.  Ontario currently spends $4.2 billion dollars a year on its Drug Benefit program.  So clearly, what the Canadian government should do is say to Ontario – “Look, we’ll take over the drug benefit program, you close down yours, and we will cut your provincial transfer payments by $4.2 Billion per year, since you don’t need it anymore.” And there’s problem number one. How do you think that will go over with the cash strapped government in Ontario?

From a politician’s point of view, they are going to risk angering the bureaucracy because this means there will be less jobs – economies of scale mean you need fewer people to run one big organization, then ten smaller ones.  This means the various civil service unions will be up in arms about closing the Provincial Drug Benefit programs. Granted upsetting bureaucrats probably won’t bother Ontario Premier Doug Ford as he has already signalled that he is going to reduce bureaucracy, but Prime Minister Trudeau (especially given his recent falling popularity) is likely going to want all the votes he can get.  Civil servants still donate to political parties – and he will not want to anger them.

Now if you have a strong-willed leader of your Pharmacare strategy, you can probably still make this change.  But alas, Trudeau hired the widely disliked and ineffectual Eric Hoskins to lead this program.  Hoskins’ main claim to fame is his utter and complete failure as a Health Minister in Ontario.  As predicted, he didn’t survive the disaster he made of Health Care.  It’s clear he jumped at the chance to get a cushy taxpayer paid job, as he knew he was going to lose his own riding of Toronto St. Paul (which was supposed to be one of the safest Liberal ridings in the Province).  His hiring does NOTHING to engender confidence that an effective Pharmacare program is possible.

What will we likely be left with?  Probably some sort of hybrid system.  This will be promoted to be in “the interests of recognizing regional diversity”.  Ottawa will create an agency to provide “oversight” and purchasing of a certain list of medications.  Then the Provinces will keep their own agencies, and buy the drugs via Ottawa. If you happen to need a drug that isn’t on the approved list, you can apply for an exemption to the Province (this part exists now).  But then the Provinces will likely turn you down and then you have to apply to Ottawa.  Goodness knows how much paperwork will be involved, and how many delays.

The end result?  TWO layers of bureaucracy for National Pharmacare, more civil service jobs, more money (and time) wasted on Provincial/Federal interplay.  How will this help?

Pharmacare is long overdue.  I just wish our politicians had the guts and foresight to implement it in a reasonable, efficient, businesslike manner.