Friends of Medicare in Medicine Hat

Medicine Hat News, Monday, October 22, 2012

CHARLES LEFEBVRE

clefebvre@medicinehatnews.com Twitter: @MHNLefebvre 

The public should demand answers about the increasing costs of health care in Alberta. That was the main message delivered Saturday afternoon by Friends of Medicare provincial director Sandra Azocar at Palliser Friends of Medicare’s annual general meeting.

“Alberta Health Services have become radically more politicized and less accountable than the previous system ever was,” she said. “We have a government model that’s turning into a running joke.”

Azocar spoke on her concerns over increasing costs to run healthcare in Alberta, saying in her opinion that Alberta Health Services was responsible for the runaway costs. “It is not a single payer Medicare system, not unions or wages, not population aging or doctors or drugs or new technology, but AHS itself,” she said.
 
Azocar introduced statistics from a Canadian institute for Health Information survey which said Alberta health spending has grown by 45 per cent since 2008, but there have not been improvement in services. Instead, she said, the money has gone to executives and managers. “Last year alone, according to AHS’s own 2011-12 financial statement, the number of managers grew by nine per cent,” she said. “It gives us some insight into how overall costs can be increasing so fast.”
 
“I don’t want to see people not be able to afford health care because they don’t have the money,” Azocar said. 
 
Boyd Alcock, chair of the Palliser Friends of Medicare, had praise for Azocar’s presentation. “Her discussion about Alberta Health Services, and  her specifics, made the problems much more clear,” he said.
 
The meeting revealed there are 170 members of Palliser Friends of Medicare and two new members, Lloyd Veenstra and Alison Van Dyke, were voted to the board of directors.

Azocar also spoke on her fear of increasing privatization of health care, and is concerned people who lack the money would be unable to receive treatment.