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Using the language of business putting customers first, diversify the revenue stream, encourage more competition, and health care is an unregulated monopoly, The Honourable Don Mazankowski released a carefully worded report that sets the stage for the continued erosion of public health care and the outright privatization of health care services in Alberta. The Report of the Premiers Advisory Council on Health, A Framework for Reform released on January 8, 2002 leaves virtually no stone unturned in the quest to open Canadas public health care system to the private sector. Moreover, it reinforces the mantra of the pro-privatization forces, that the health care system as it currently exists is not sustainable.

Interestingly, Mazankowkis report does not delve into how public medicare could be strengthened or expanded. The report almost totally ignores the health care needs of Canadians. Dont look in the Mazankowski report for any insights on how elderly or disabled Canadians will be able to receive the home and community-care services that they greatly need. It isnt there. The future of long term care services are conspicuously absent from the analysis on how future needs of a growing elderly population can be met. The report pays only token lip service to how the province should deal with the most significant cost-driver of health care costs the cost of pharmaceuticals.

Rather, the report focuses almost solely on how the system can be changed to ensure that public funding can be directed into private pockets. Mazankowskis vision is to eliminate any effective government role from health care, save a funding role. But before doing that, the Council wants the public sector to fund the transition to provide the administrative and organizational framework that will allow the private sector to take over health care. As you will read later on in this paper, government support for a debit card system will provide the administrative infrastructure for medical savings accounts and the individualization of the responsibility for health care funding.

The Advisory Council stops short of making recommendations that contravene the Canada Health Act. However, they do lay the groundwork to legitimize measures that will contravene the Canada Health Act. Cleverly, they place the blame on Canadians themselves.

it is highly likely that pressures will mount to look for new options outside the limitations of the Canada Health Act. That may not be our preference, but we also acknowledge that Albertans and Canadians will not accept continued rationing of health services, long waiting times, and denied access to new treatments and technology available elsewhere.

So, having absolved themselves of any blame for recommendations that may contravene the Canada Health Act, they proceed to make many recommendations that could easily slip over the line and contravene the Canada Health Act or at least seriously erode the public health care system.

The most prominently mentioned vehicle for implementing reform is the Medical Savings Account (MSA) promoted by the Fraser Institute as a solution to the sustainability question. However, MSAs are very inefficient and place increased financial burdens on individuals. (See Appendix A for more details on the model and its shortcomings.)

In the end, the Advisory Council outlines ten areas in which reform must take place. And in each area they make recommendations that would lead to privatization of health care.