The province’s leaked health-care document is a “Third Way” photocopy, says the Parkland Institute.
“Ralph Klein’s Third Way included getting rid of the doctor’s opt-out clause and introducing more private insurance. It’s the same agenda as the Third Way,” said Diana Gibson, Parkland research director, who gave a presentation at a Central Alberta Council on Aging meeting on Tuesday.
In 2006, Klein’s Third Way proposed that Albertans be able to choose to pay for some surgery.
The new document Alberta’s Health Legislation: Moving Forward, made public last week, suggests that doctors be allowed to provide both public and private health care instead of opting to practice in only one.
Gibson said that cannot work with Alberta’s “crisis-level shortage of doctors.”
Doctors will be lost to the private system, forcing wait lists to go up, said Gibson.
Parkland Institute is a non-partisan research centre at the University of Alberta.
“If this government is really taking the wait time problem seriously, why would they consider getting rid of the opt-out clause? It will exacerbate problems in the system,” Gibson told about 110 seniors at the Golden Circle.
The plan also includes the creation of a new category of health-care services that would only be partially funded by government.
But studies show that private insurance doesn’t decrease costs or wait lists, she said.
“If you create a parallel private system, you don’t expand the deck of cards, you just shuffle it and the people with the money shift to the top and the rest are left in a system that has less resources and longer waits.”
“Study after study in international peer-review medical journals — the U.K., the U.S., Canada — have released studies showing for-profit health care is more expensive and delivers lower quality results. You have a higher chance of dying post-surgery in a for-profit surgery — that’s the data. Those are the facts.”
Wildrose Alliance Party’s health-care reforms are no better, calling for even deeper privatization of health-care services, Gibson told the seniors, who are familiar with staff shortages and care complaints at Extendicare Michener Hill, Red Deer’s new publicly-funded and privately-operated long-term care facility.
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith “stated publicly and stated clearly that as long as it’s public funded, it doesn’t matter who delivers it. How many here believe that in seniors care it doesn’t matter who delivers the service? How many of you have not seen a difference in the non-profit and the for-profit seniors care?
“Of course it matters who delivers it. For profit has to make a profit. They’re legally obliged by investors and by fiduciary duty to make a profit for their shareholders. It has to come out of your pocket,” Gibson said.
Viggo Nielsen, president of the Central Alberta Council on Aging, said Red Deer has seen first-hand what happens when a private company takes over long-term care.
“The problem is the service is just not as good. It’s more expensive,” Nielsen said.
He agreed the province has been out to privatize health care for a long time and people need to hear from organizations like the Parkland Institute that can provide detailed data instead of general comments.
“It’s something that’s so necessary for people to know about when they decide who they’re going to vote for.”