Saturday, February 7, 2009

Alta health minister won't confirm report that some treatments will be de-listed

Delisting helps out private health care insurers and also offloads costs from the government onto the individual. In doing so it creates problems for those without the means to pay for such added costs or the insurance premiums to ensure insurance coverage. Of course Alberta is not about to delist services covered under the Canada Health Act because this was cause them to lose federal funding.
Alberta already has made its system less responsive to local needs by forming a Super Board. It remains to be seen what the new head of that board will do to earn his over half a million a year in pay.

This is from the Canadian Press.

Alta health minister won't confirm report that some treatments will be de-listed
4 hours ago
CALGARY — Albertans will have to wait a few more months until the provincial budget to find out what health treatments may be cut from medicare coverage, says Health Minister Ron Liepert.
Word leaked out this week that Alberta is looking at the eliminating about 30 medical services, including chiropractic treatments and mole removal.
Employment Minister Hector Goudreau told a business luncheon in his northern constituency earlier this week that some treatments not covered by the Canada Health Act may be dropped.
Goudreau is quoted in the Mile Zero News based in Grimshaw, Alta., as saying that any services that are de-listed would likely become eligible for Blue Cross private insurance coverage.
But Liepert says details of such cost-cutting measures won't be released until the budget, expected sometime in April.
Liepert told reporters in Calgary on Thursday that he's reviewing health-care expenses line by line, but wouldn't say what medical services could be on the chopping block.
"I can't comment on any speech or comments that other (elected members) are making," said Liepert. "I don't have anything to announce.
"As a minister that has by far the largest expenditures of anyone in government, it would not be appropriate for me if we didn't ensure that every line ... is justified."
However, Liepert said Albertans will continue to receive any medical services and treatments listed under the Canada Health Act.
"It's not just medical services, it's everything from grants to organizations and all those sorts of things," he said.
Premier Ed Stelmach was also vague when asked what's coming for health care, although he confirmed that the $13 billion annual health budget is not being reduced over the next year.
"We're looking at the way we purchase a lot of the goods and services in the health department," Stelmach told reporters following a luncheon speech.
"We're committed to publicly funded health care. We're not going to do anything that is not supported by the Canada Health Act."
But Goudreau's speech has created an uproar among the opposition parties and health-care unions.
Liberal Leader David Swann describes de-listing of treatments as penny wise and pound foolish.
"We've already seen this government increase the costs seniors will have to pay," said Swann. "Removing some services will delay diagnosis and treatment and add further burdens to people."
Liepert has already announced plans to push a larger portion of drug costs onto patients, especially those who can afford to pay, including well-off seniors.
Other health reforms in the works for Alberta include a greater emphasis on keeping seniors in their homes longer to reduce pressure to build more long-term care facilities.
NDP Leader Brian Mason is opposed to many of these changes and says de-listing medical services doesn't create significant savings.
"The Tories are bent on the privatization of health care and are taking advantage of the current economic crisis to try to further those partisan ends," said Mason.
United Nurses of Alberta president Heather Smith describes de-listing as a pass-the-buck plan.
"If you need a mole removed, you need it done," said Smith. "Medical services are not optional things you can just do without."
The union leader says even if people end up getting private insurance coverage of these treatments, it would still become a cost issue for employers providing this benefit.
- By Jim Macdonald in Edmonton.

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