June 24th, 2024

NDP raises alarm over health spending accounts

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on November 22, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips is calling on Premier Danielle Smith to commit to pause any efforts to privatize the healthcare system or making Albertans pay out of pocket until May, so she can bring those items forward at election time to let Albertans decide.

“The fact is that Albertans do not support an American style healthcare or efforts to stop family doctors from wanting to practice here, which this sort of chaos and wild schemes results in,” said Phillips in an interview with the Herald Monday afternoon.

Phillips said that a video has surfaced of Danielle Smith saying that Albertans should pay out of pocket for all of their family doctor visits, but they would have a few covered from a so-called health spending account.

The 2021 video referenced by Phillips, features Smith appearing as a guest on the YouTube show Business Insider to promote a policy paper she had written for the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, titled “Alberta’s Key Challenges and Opportunities.”

The video can be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1Ft_oIc68g

Phillips said that Smith has told the media in the past the province should bring back health care premiums and that Albertans should pay for major surgery, other specialist appointments, or perhaps have a baby.

“Daniel Smith wants us to pay out of pocket for health care. She has said ‘Albertans need to get used to it’ and also that we need to be taught a lesson when we access health care services,” said Phillips.

Phillips said the suggestion is a recipe for chaos and conflict and Albertans cannot trust the UCP with their healthcare.

On Monday morning NDP Health Critic David Shepherd told reporters in Edmonton that Albertans should never have to pay to see their family doctor or their pediatrician.

“Smith’s health spending accounts are a scam to try and convince Albertans they should have to pay out of pocket to get the care they need, even during the worst cost of living crisis in 40 years. She’s completely wrong,” said Shepherd.

To this the UCP government responded by saying in a press release that the NDP’s suggestions that Albertans will have to pay user fees on doctor’s visits or other publicly funded services is not true.

“Premier Smith has committed to introducing health savings accounts to help Albertans afford health-care costs that are not covered by our publicly funded health system,” reads the release.

The release also states that Health Minister Jason Copping is working on the health spending accounts, but has not been directed to pursue any user-pay or deductible program or a plan to bring back health premiums.

It also states that Copping said he is focused on recruiting more health professionals, noting his department has reached an agreement with the Alberta Medical Association to remove the cap of 50 visits a day for family physicians in order to help doctors and deliver more access to care.

Health spending accounts were part of Smith’s successful campaign to win the leadership of the United Conservative Party to become premier. She promised to give every Albertan $300 to start their own account. Her government would then give employers and individuals tax incentives to contribute more.

But the release also states that Smith had previously written in a June 2021 policy paper for the University of Calgary (she talks about in the video), that Health System Accounts (HSAs) would be a way to get public buy-in to discuss a new way of funding health care, including services currently paid for by the public purse.

The release states that Smith wrote at the time “Once people get used to the concept of paying out of pocket for more things themselves, then we can change the conversation on health care.”

She added: “My view is that the entire budget for general practitioners should be paid for from health spending accounts.”

She wrote that from HSAs, the government could then move to broader reforms like co-pays and deductibles based on income for things like surgeries. From there could spring broader reforms like charter or private hospitals.

“The only option is to allow people to use more of their own money to pay their own way and use the power of innovation to deliver better services at a lower cost,” she wrote.

“I’m willing to bet most Albertans would be willing to pay up to $1,000 if it would reduce waiting times on vital treatments for themselves or a family member.”

Follow @APulidoHerald on Twitter

– with files from The Canadian Press

Follow @APulidoHerald on Twitter

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The old American Style health care. At least theirs works, You dumped a 70 billion dollar debt on the province, hired thousands for health care workers, dumped a SCS on Lethbridge that we are still recovering from the damage this caused. 5.1 property tax increase to help clean up your mess. Mainly it was due to the lack of oversight by YOUR government.. So what is your point? Health spending accounts that are in union contracts are a no go for the serfs you collect it from? Good for thee but not for me. Typical gibberish demands from Phillips.
Here is a good link. Phillips should pay attention. This is the mess that should be cleaned up and NDP BC is leading the way.


Last edited 1 year ago by buckwheat