Days after the Liberal government ripped job-security protection from health care agreements, the Hospital Employees’ Union issued a sweeping Freedom of Information Act request targeting BC Premier Gordon Campbell and three of his cabinet ministers to determine if they are negotiating to bring US hospital giant Humana Inc. to BC.
“It’s logical for us to try to get to the bottom this,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt, “given that the Campbell government is pushing hard behind the scenes to build Canada’s first privately financed, owned, and operated hospital in Abbotsford.
“And we want to determine whether there’s a link between the Campbell government’s unilateral action to gut our contracts and a possible plan to bring a private US company into BC to run hospitals.”
Given the provisions of trade deals like NAFTA, opening the border to for-profit US health care would have a devastating impact on public health care in BC and across Canada.
Kentucky-based Humana is the largest health maintenance organization (HMO) south of the border. Humana currently faces a class action lawsuit filed under US anti-racketeering laws alleging that the company systematically defrauded physicians. Last year the company was fined $1 million by the state of Georgia for improper conduct.
During last year’s provincial election Campbell pledged to protect Medicare, and to get the public health care system “firing on all cylinders,” to make private for-profit care “redundant.”
“By actively promoting private hospitals for BC, the Premier is breaking another fundamental election pledge,” Allnutt says.