Medicare, labour groups say Alberta Health Act could lead to more private care

EDMONTON - Medicare and labour groups want Alberta to shelve planned changes to laws that govern the province's health-care system.

The Friends of Medicare says the new Alberta Health Act to be introduced this fall would make it easier for the government to expand private health insurance.

Executive director Dave Eggen says it would also make it easier for the province to de-list health services from medicare coverage, a move that would force Albertans to pay out of pocket for some services.

The Alberta Federation of Labour has also released a legal review of the province's existing health laws, which limit the use of private medical insurance.

The review says the province's existing laws do a good job of protecting public health care.

Alberta Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky is to respond to a government-commissioned review of the health system by the end of next week.

Department officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The changes proposed by the Minister's Advisory Committee on Health would scrap all existing health care laws - including protections against privatization - and replace them with what is known as "enabling legislation." The Health Minister could make new health care laws without even having a debate in the Legislature. The legal opinion concludes that the plan for putting health care laws into regulations is "not consistent with a democratic society."

Lethbridge Herald, Tues Oct 12 2010

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