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NEWS: Wildrose government would pay for private clinic services across Canada

The Globe and Mail reports, “The Wildrose Party has reignited the debate over two-tiered medicine in the province, embracing private health care for certain procedures as a way to alleviate long waiting times. The party, which has soared into the lead in multiple polls, promised to allow patients the right to use private clinics – inside or outside the province – on the public dime if they have to wait longer than a set time for procedures, from cancer and cardiac care to diagnostic imaging and orthopedic surgery as well as cataract removal.”

“Stephen Harper’s Wildrose soulmate Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said it would cost an estimated $180-million a year to implement. …Ms. Smith said the proposal is ‘innovative, practical and affordable’ and would come with a protection of the public-health-care guarantee. She said it would not violate the principles of the Canada Health Act and actually ‘strengthen and protect’ the country’s health-care system. Extra billing would not be permitted, she said.”

“‘The zombies of private-health insurance keep coming back,’ said Avalon Roberts, an Alberta board member of Friends of Medicare. ‘The public health-care system should be improved. There will always be people trying to bring it down.’ …Friends of Medicare said the plan would create a two-tiered system that benefits only the rich…”

“The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said it would drive doctors and nurses into a parallel private system, exacerbating the waiting-times problem.
Alberta Medical Association president Linda Slocombe said the system should be using the facilities in place, but surgeons can’t get operating rooms. ‘We have unused ORs due to lack of funding,’ she said.”

The provincial election in Alberta takes place on April 23.