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    Friends of medicare submission to fred horne Friends of medicare submission to fred horne Document Transcript

    • Friends of Medicare’s Submission to Fred Horne, MLA and Chair, Minister’s Advisory Committee on The Proposed Alberta Health Act             Friends of Medicare
    • July 9th, 2010    
    •       Friends  of  Medicare  has  a  difficult  time  trying  to  understand  what  is  the  rationale  for  proposing   this  Alberta  Health  Act  legislation.    The  document  “A  Foundation  for  Alberta’s  Health  System”   does  not  provide  an  explanation  as  to  why  over-­‐arching  legislation  is  required.    Furthermore,  the   language  of  this  Foundation  document  is  similar  in  scope  and  tone  to  the  2002  Mazankowski   report  and  the  government’s  2005  “Third  Way”  initiative,  both  of  which  were  designed  to   expand  private  health  care  in  the  province.             We  very  strongly  believe  that  this  legislation  should  be  changed  only  if  it  is  a  serious  attempt  to   strengthen  the  public  health  system  and  to  redouble  restrictions  on  for-­‐profit  delivery.     Otherwise,  there  is  little  to  be  gained  that  could  not  be  accomplished  with  current  legislation   working  in  concert  with  the  Canada  Health  Act.           1.    Increase  accountability  for  Quality.    This  is  an  important  goal.    Friends  of  Medicare   recommends  that  this  should  be  addressed  through  an  expanded  role  of  the  health   quality  council.     2. Patient  centered  health.    Again,  a  very  good  concept,  as  long  as  it  is  pursued  in  a   sincere  manner.    For  example,  the  government  must  hold  its  policy  of  private  health   delivery  up  to  the  light  and  make  an  honest  determination  as  to  whether  private   health  is  the  best  choice  for  the  patient.         3. Patient  Charter.    This  label  is  misleading,  since  by  all  indications  the  government  has   no  intention  of  introducing  an  actual  charter.    What  the  government  is  more  likely  to   introduce  is  broad  language  about  the  right  to  timely  access  to  medical  services,   along  with  a  list  of  personal  responsibilities  Albertans  should  undertake  to  improve   their  health.    It  is  our  view  that  this  “patient  charter”  should  not  proceed  as  outlined   in  the  survey.    At  the  very  least  the  responsibilities  section  should  be  removed,  and   the  timeliness  section  should  be  constrained  to  acknowledge  the  limitations  of  the   health  system.    This  “Charter”  should  not  be  used  a  vehicle  to  expand  private  health   care.    The  concept  has  a  very  poor  record  in  other  jurisdictions,  and  flies  in  face  of  the   “no-­‐fault”  single  payer  system  that  lies  at  the  heart  of  public  health  system.       4. It  is  clear  the  intention  of  the  Alberta  Health  Act  is  to  merge  a  number  of  Acts  and  to   standardize  definitions.    We  are  very  concerned  that  this  new  act  will  go  after   legislation  that  protects  Albertans  from  expanded  private  insurance,  private  delivery,   and  two  tier,  private  health  care.    It  is  simplistic  and  misleading  to  assert  that  current   legislation  is  “obsolete  and  inefficient”  when  it  fact  it  protects  Albertans  from   expensive  and  unnecessary  two  tier  private  health  care.                  
    •     5. Expansion  of  for-­‐profit  delivery.    We  suspect  this  aspect  of  the  report  is  driving  force   behind  the  Alberta  Health  Act.    Investor  owned  health  companies  are  applying   pressure  to  expand  private  contracts  to  deliver  all  aspects  of  health  care  system  .    We   assert  mostly  strongly  that  these  private  contracts  result  in  higher  costs,  lower  quality   health  outcomes,  and  adverse  conditions  for  staff.    They  also  hand  over  resources,   buildings  and  decision  making  over  to  a  private  provider,  and  make  it  much  more   difficult  to  audit  how  public  funds  are  being  spent.         The  government’s  health  policy  has  caused  chaos  and  confusion  for  the  past  two  years.     What  is  emerging  is  a  vision  of  greatly  expanded  private  for  profit  health  care.      It  is  clear   that  the  Alberta  health  act  is  a  way  to  move  our  public  health  care  system  into  being  a   publicly  funded  health  system,  with  a  universe  of  private  contracts  actually  delivering  the   services.       The  model  that  should  be  used  to  bring  this  legislation  forward  is  a  full  discussion  paper   that  outlines  the  legislation  and  what  are  the  government’s  intentions  surrounding  the   proposal.    Most  Albertans  are  simply  confused  and  suspicious  of  the  government’s   intentions  concerning  this  legislation,  so  it  is  important  to  lay  out  a  clear,  concise  process   that  allows  proper  debate.    The  very  idea  that  the  government  would  “consult”  for  three   of  four  months  on  a  bill  that  has  neither  form  nor  shape  is  a  deeply  cynical  and  confused   exercise.    We  would  suggest  that  the  committee  delivers  its  report,  the  government   develops  draft  legislation,  and  the  public  is  given  its  due  with  a  white  paper  outlining  the   intentions  of  the  government,  with  the  legislation  to  move  forward  (or  not)  in  2011,                                 _____________________   David  Eggen,  Executive  Director   Friends  of  Medicare