Health of a Province
In typical Klein fashion, everything is very vague:
The two politicians stressed that the discussion paper was only a starting point meant to encourage industry and public feedback.
"Nothing is cast in stone," Evans said. "We put the paper out to be consultative with Albertans."
So, presumably, a lot will depend on the public backlash or support these proposals receive. It also means that Klein may be leaving his successor with a huge hot potato. My hunch is that Jim Dinning is probably the least happy person in Alberta over these proposed reforms.
As for the reforms themselves, here are the highlights:
1. Allowing patients to pay extra to upgrade their hospital rooms or surgical procedures; for example, by paying extra to get a better hip replacement than is medically necessary.
2. Possibly tying how much a person pays for medications to how much money they earn.
3. Implementing an Electronic Health Record for all Albertans
(Note: by and large, I pulled those four points from news stories because the only official report I could find had such specifics as "Taking serious action on wellness" for its 12 points. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more vague report on health care...or anything. If anyone has a link for the full report, I'd love to see it.)
As much as I hate to do it, I'm actually going to give Klein some credit. A lot of theserecommendationss sound good. Yeah, I'm surprised to be typing those words. Electronic health records make a lot of sense. Tying medication costs to someone's income would (presumably) help lower income Albertans. And allowing someone to splurge for a first class room is hardly a two tiered system.
However, I think once you start to allow people to get private delivery of medical procedures, you're into a two tiered system. Klein and Evans said that there would not be private delivery of necessaryy" procedures so it really comes down to where they draw the line at necessaryy". Either way, you're dancing with two tiered health care, even if it isn't anything new (Quebec has been doing this for years).
Friends of medicare also raised the concern that this could lead to doctors pressuring patients to get these "bonus" procedures since they'd be cashing in on them. I'm not sure if that's a major concern, but it's worth keeping in mind.
Bottom line: These reforms in themselves aren't profoundly scary. A lot of them actually sound good and Klein deserves some credit for trying to do something with health care. However, I really don't like having two tiers, even if it is only for hip and knee replacements and I hope there's enough public backlash against that to force Ralph to back down.