Tuesday, July 17, 2007

BC can continue contracting out medical record keeping.

The unions should appeal to the Supreme Court if that is possible. The fact that the contractor is a US multinational is exceedingly dangerous with respect to the privacy of records I should think. Some of the anti-terror laws in the US may force the opening of the contractor's records if required for anti-terror investigations. In any event this is just another example of the rush to find more areas to do away with public management which is non-profit and open up those areas to private for profit investment. The record of the Liberal government in BC on these issues is far worse than any Conservative provincial government anywhere as far as I can see.

B.C. can keep contracting out medical records, court rules
Government deal with U.S. multinational is legal, appeal court says
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | 8:53 AM PT
CBC News
B.C.'s appeal court has ruled that the province can continue contracting a private company to maintain public health records, rejecting claims that the practice violates federal and provincial laws.

It's a victory for Premier Gordon Campbell and his Liberals and a defeat for the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union.

In 2004, the Ministry of Health signed a 10-year contract to handle medical records with Maximus BC, a subsidiary of a U.S. multinational.

The union challenged the contract in court, saying it could violate both the Canada Health Act and B.C.'s Medicare Protection Act, which says the administration of public health insurance must be public.

But in the decision released Monday, the B.C. Court of Appeal said the contract with Maximus does not break the law.

The court ruled while the private contractor may supervise technological services, it is not the ultimate decision-maker: the province retains that authority.

Health Minister George Abbott said it was an important ruling.

"There is nothing magical about the work that is being undertaken by Maximus. It was done previously in-house and it is now done by contract."

The Maximus contract got off to a rocky start during its first years when the government penalized the company several times for failing to meet its performance targets.

But Abbott said the service is now better than ever, and the contract will continue with the approval of the courts.

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