Rick Baker And Timely Medical Alternatives, Profiting From The Current U.S. Health Care System

May 27, 2009 4:16 pm ET

Canadian medical broker Rick Baker has made his documentary debut in a new CPR video about the perils of a Canadian-style health care system.  CPR failed to mention that Mr. Baker has vested financial interest in keeping the United States health care status quo.

Health Care Reform Advocates Not Pushing For Canadian-Style Health System

As Media Matters Action Network Has Previously Noted, Despite Repeated Claims By Conservatives, CPR, And Now Rick Baker, The Obama Administration Does NOT Want To Adopt A Government-Run Health Care System.

Sen. Max Baucus: "We are not Europe.  We are not Canada...We need a uniquely American solution.  It has to be a partnership of public and private players." [Washington Post, 5/11/09]

Conservatives For Patients Rights Documentary Includes Canadian Medical Broker's Testimony

One of the featured videos on Conservatives for Patients Rights website, FacesOfGovernmentHealthCare.com, includes the following interview excerpt:

Rick Baker, Medical Broker: "The Canadian health care system is unique in that there's only one other country in the world, that's North Korea, that follows our pattern.  It is against the law for a medical provider to accept payment to render medical services to the population.  I recognize that people who are desperate are quite happy to pay, notwithstanding anything government might tell you to the contrary, quite happy to pay for relief from their pain and suffering.  And people have said to me, 'Rick, you're taking advantage of sick people.' I'm not taking advantage of sick people anymore than doctors are...pharmaceutical companies are, insurance companies are, I am helping people get prompt delivery of health care. Worst case scenario, our client who was given a week to live was put on an indefinite waiting list for treatment for a blocked artery to her bowel.  She had one week to live and had no idea when she was going to get her surgery.  Now how bad can that be? She came to us, we got her down to the U.S. the next day where she had life saving surgery.  If the public health care system were working at a high level of efficiency, there would be no need for someone like me. Why would there? It's only because they are failing the public that people wind up coming to me." [FacesOfGovernmentHealthCare.com, accessed 5/27/09]

Baker Supplied His Clients For CPR's Patient Interviews.  Canada's National Post reported: "Mr. Baker said his customers have included six people who were told by their Canadian doctors they could die before their number came up on the waiting list for various treatments. The broker has agreed to do similar interviews with another free-market health lobby group, and is scheduled to address U.S. congressmen in Washington next month at CPR's request. He said he will also be featured in a 30-minute advocacy infomercial that the organization is negotiating to run on U.S. television. When CPR sent Gene Randall, a former CNN and NBC correspondent, to Canada to conduct interviews, Mr. Baker linked him up with some of his clients. They included Don Neufeldt, a Bradner, B.C., poultry farmer who related how he faced a wait of more than two years for surgery to fix a potentially fatal heart arrhythmia, then decided to pay to have the operation in Oklahoma City almost immediately. 'It was worth paying the money,' he says in one CPR video posted on YouTube. 'I'd pay it in an instant again.'" [National Post (Canada), 5/8/09]

Rick Baker Founded Timely Medical Alternatives

Rick Baker Founded Timely Medical Alternatives, Which Expedites "Private Medical Services" For Canadians Citizens.  Rick Baker founded Timely Medical Alternatives in 2003.  According to its website: "Timely Medical Alternatives Inc. is able to expedite virtually any surgery, diagnostic imaging, or biopsy. Many of our private medical services are available in Canada; some are available in the US, where we have a network of hospitals and private medical services clinics with which we work."  [TimelyMedical.ca, accessed 5/27/09]

  • Timely Medical Alternatives Can Make "Every Effort" To Send Their Clients To The U.S. For Treatment. According to Timely Medical Alternatives, Step #2 of accessing private health care includes: "If you wish to proceed, an appointment will be made for you in one of our associated clinics or private hospitals. Certain private medical clinics in Canada are available, by law, to those private patients whose procedures entail no lengthy hospital stay. Clients, whose surgeries or other procedures will require a longer stay will be referred to an accredited hospital or private medical clinics outside Canada. If a U.S. venue is preferred, every effort will be made to refer our client to a facility in a border state." [TimelyMedical.ca, accessed 5/27/09, emphasis added]

Rick Baker: Profiting Off The U.S. Status Quo

Baker: "If The U.S. Adopts Our System, Where Else Can I Send My Dying Canadians?" According to the Toronto Star: "Vancouver-based Rick Baker of Timely Medical Alternatives...specializes in helping Canadians unwilling to accept waiting times in the country. Baker arranges private care in Canada or, more likely, arranges for care south of the border. 'It would be hypocritical of me to say I don't care about health care in the U.S.,' he said. 'I strongly believe in the right of people to take control of their own health care. Besides, if the U.S. adopts our system, where else can I send my dying Canadians?'" [Toronto Star, 2/22/08]

National Post: Baker's Motivation For Fighting U.S. Health Care Reform Is Selfish. According to Canada's National Post: "Mr. Baker, whose Timely Medical Alternatives helps Canadians obtain speedier treatment in the United States, said his own motivation for co-operating with [Conservatives for Patients Rights] was in a way selfish. If America adopts health care similar to Canada's, he will have nowhere to send his clients, he said. 'We refer to America as Canada's 'other' health care system,' he said. 'It's like the release valve on a pressure cooker -- the U. S. availability. So if the U. S. were to adopt our dysfunctional system, where would I send my Canadian patients who are dying?'" [National Post (Canada), 5/8/09]

Timely Medical Alternatives In The United States

Rick Baker's North American Surgery Inc. Profits From Americans Lacking Health Insurance.  As reported by the Vancouver Sun, "a snag in his continent-wide plan, Baker said, was that Canadian doctors are seldom insured for Americans and others who wish to undertake elective surgery here. So in August he incorporated North American Surgery Inc. here to serve the 33 million U.S. residents he says have no medical insurance but do have money. For them, he scouted good hospital deals. How good? After a Wisconsin woman said she'd fly to Bombay for surgery, Baker said he 'triaged' her to a Michigan hospital where she'd pay a competitive $19,000 for the procedure. When the hospital quoted the patient $40,000, Baker says he quickly soothed her by proving himself a better negotiator. He got better yet in Oklahoma, where he says a doctor-owned four-hospital complex offers high-quality heart, orthopedic, spine and ambulatory care at prices that reflect that state's low personal-economy status." [Vancouver Sun, 10/11/07; emphasis added]

Baker Charges U.S. Clients For His Convenience Services.  The Vancouver Sun reported: "Baker has recently expanded his services to include U.S. clients as well. He is targeting Americans who, instead of flying to India for a hip replacement, can be referred to U.S. clinics that might charge them a couple of thousand dollars more, but make up for the extra cost in convenience." [Vancouver Sun (British Columbia), 10/27/07]

Baker Favors Referring Clients To Non-Union Hospitals In The U.S.  According to the Vancouver Sun: "Originally, Baker referred his Canadian clients exclusively to clinics in Washington state. But over the last four years, he has built up a stable of client hospitals and clinics across Canada and the U.S. -- a total of eight private surgical clinics in B.C. and Quebec, three hospitals in New York state, one in Michigan, three in Washington state and four in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City hospitals were a real find, Baker said, and may presage the future of surgical services delivery. There, surgeons unhappy with big full-service hospital bureaucracies have set up their own specialized hospitals, all of them staffed with non-union personnel. The result, he said, is quicker and cheaper service." [Vancouver Sun (British Columbia), 10/27/07]