Alberta government hands responsibility for reforming health care to private insurance companies

EDMONTON - The Klein government's decision to put out a call for proposals to private insurance companies interested in covering public health services is an act of "breathtaking stupidity", says Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

"They're talking about making sweeping changes to our health care system and they want profit-seeking private insurance companies to chart the course," says McGowan. "This is a betrayal of the public and an abrogation of government responsibility. What do you think these insurance companies will recommend? Whose best interests will they really be looking after?"

The government request for proposals was released to the insurance industry on August 30th, but only revealed to the public today. It calls for the creation of private insurance plans to cover a wide range of services currently covered by Medicare, including prescription drugs, long-term care, supplementary health services and "non-emergency" health services.

"We know that private insurance will end up costing Albertans more for health services," says McGowan. "This will particularly hurt Alberta employers, who are going to end up paying a lot more for employee health benefits. To continue to drive down a road that leads to nowhere is an act either of stupidity or deliberate political blindness."

"Do Albertans really want what is being offered here? Instead of going to a hospital, do we really want to have to go to 'HipMart' or 'Seniors R Us'? I don't think so," concludes McGowan.

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For more information

Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780-915-4599(cell)

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