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One MD, one fighter pilot will be new astronauts

We recently wondered "Will Canada's next astronaut be an MD?" On Wednesday, the Canadian Space Agency gave us the answer: yes.

The CSA announced the two newest additions to its team of astronauts: Montreal physician/astrophysicist David Saint-Jacques (pictured left), and Alberta CF-18 fighter pilot Jeremy Hansen.

Dr Saint-Jacques only recently received his medical degree, from the Université de Laval. Here is the CSA's brief bio:

David Saint-Jacques
Born: Québec, QC
Raised: Saint-Lambert, QC
Current residence: Montreal, QC and Puvirnituq, QC
Education:
-BEng, Engineering Physics, École polytechnique de Montréal (1993)
-PhD, Astrophysics, Cambridge University, UK (1998)
-MD, Université Laval (2005)
David is currently a medical doctor practicing at Inuulitsivik Health Centre in Puvirnituq, Northern Quebec. He also works as a Clinical Faculty Lecturer at McGill University's Faculty of Medicine.

Dr Saint-Jacques's selection means that the current CSA astronaut roster of five includes two physicians: Dr Saint-Jacques and Dr Robert Thirsk. (To read my Q&A with Dr Thirsk in the current issue of Parkhurst Exchange magazine, click .)

Toronto trauma physician Christopher Denny and University of Manitoba med student and former helicopter pilot Keith Wilson made it to the final recruitment round of 16 candidates before the CSA made their final selections.

Liberals win third straight majority in BC

The results are in, and so is the Liberal Party, yet again.

Gordon Campbell's Liberals managed once again to defeat the NDP in the BC provincial election, winning 49 seats -- 13 more than the opposition's 36. The Liberals received 46% of the popular vote, the NDP 42%.

Before the election was called, the Liberals held 42 seats and the NDP 34. (Six new ridings were created for this election and three seats were vacant.) The Green Party failed to win any seats.

Despite problems during the Liberals' tenure in healthcare (as Canadian Medicine reported on last week), voters apparently were reluctant to put the "untested leader" Carole James in power and so chose Mr Campbell (pictured above) to attempt to dig the province out of the recession, as well as to lead the province through next year's Olympics, the Nanaimo Daily News.

Ms James, the NDP leader, has said she will stay on as party leader. It's anyone's guess, however, how long that arrangement will last. Longtime NDP health critic Adrian Dix, who was reelected on Tuesday and could probably make a good case for a leadership bid himself, he supported Ms James as the party's leader despite the election results. "I'm proud to serve with her, and I think all NDP-ers are proud of the job she's done."

There's been no word on who will hold the post of health minister in the new government but our best guess is that George Abbott, who was reeleceted on Tuesday, will stay on. He's the longest serving provincial health minister in the country and, with a recession threatening to pull BC's finances into the red, the government will likely want a health minister who knows how to avoid any major catastrophes.

"There will be a lot of painful news coming from the government in the next few months," the Victoria Times-Colonist on Wednesday. "Individual ministries will face a severe squeeze as the government tries to find cuts to make up for falling revenues. There are only three choices: Cut spending; raise taxes; or incur a larger deficit." Canadian Medicine is willing to bet that a larger deficit is what will be seen, at least in the health ministry.

The other item on the ballot this election, a referendum on adopting a Single Transferable Voting system rather than the existing first-past-the-post method, .

The 5 most common billing errors


Each province’s health insurance billing system is different, but they all have one important thing in common: a gigantic, complex raft of billing codes which are seemingly designed to haunt you in your sleep. With thousands of codes, and with frequent revisions to the fee schedule, it’s difficult to imagine a bureaucratic system (besides perhaps the Canada Revenue Agency’s) more challenging to decipher than your province’s billing agency.

Not that it’s your fault. Physicians aren’t being educated on the issue, says Carmen Medeiros of the management and collection firm Ontario Medical Billing Services Inc. “They graduate with their specialty in hand, they get their billing number, and [the schools] go, ‘Here you go, go to work.’” But doctors aren’t prepared for the confusing world of medical billing. “They don’t know anything,” says Ms. Medeiros. “They’re green as grass.” The result? All too often it’s money lost because claims are rejected.

Parkhurst Exchange asked two government agencies — British Columbia’s Medical Services Commission and the Ontario Health Insurance Plan — to spill the beans on the 5 types of billing errors they see most frequently.

Read the rest of the article on the Parkhurst Exchange website .

Photo: Shutterstock