Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Two-tier health in Alberta?

Well, as far as two-tier systems go, this plan is pretty tame.

Alberta's health reform plan will offer basic care for all, but those who can afford extras could get nicer hospital rooms and better-quality hip replacements.

Premier Ralph Klein and Health Minister Iris Evans denied Tuesday it was a two-tiered approach.

"The premier has said many times, if you're sick or you're injured, you will get the care that you need," Evans said in Calgary.

However, Liberal Party Leader Kevin Taft said: "There's no question we're headed towards a two-tiered health-care system from what I've seen today. That just goes against everything that we stand for in Alberta."

Taft called on the federal government to penalize Alberta for violating the universality provisions of the Canada Health Act.

After the CBC got the evil Albertans trying to destroy medicare they included some other details:

Some of those changes could include tying a person's prescription drug bill to their income.

People may be allowed to use secondary insurance to pay for expanded podiatry and chiropractic services. Albertans now have to pay for those expenses out of their own pockets.

Other proposed reforms include:

* Electronic health records for Albertans
* Moving to teams of doctors and health specialists
* Bulk purchases of drugs
* Hiring more doctors and nurses
* Improving long-term and rural care

One idea the ministry plans to study are the pros and cons of tax incentives or other benefits to encourage people to stay healthy.

I don't really think that there'd be much benefit derived from that last suggestion.

Overall, it is a pretty tame challenge of the Canada Health Act, but not one which I'm entirely sure is the way to go. If you pay you get a nicer room and better hip replacement? No matter, what he'd done he would likely have received bad press, but that seems like it's asking for it while not really improving service all that substantially.

It doesn't say anything about queue jumping which would be something that would be worth paying for, perhaps Klein doesn't have the guts for that, or he's just testing to see what he can get away with for now with the real challenges to come later.