Corporations Bidding for AHS Labs Contract Raise Concerns

Friends of Medicare has learned that three multinational corporations have been mentioned to provide laboratory services for AHS in the Edmonton Zone. The three corporations short-listed in the Request for Proposals (RFP) are Laboratory Corp of America Holdings, Quest Diagnostic Inc., and CML Health Care, which recently received $1.22 billion friendly takeover offer from LifeLabs Medical.

Both Laboratory Corp of America and Quest Diagnostic Inc. have been charged and have settled in law suits for gouging the American public Medicaid and Medicare systems by billing for significantly higher amounts than they bill private insurers. Laboratory Corp is also currently being sued in San Francisco Superior Court for improperly changing screening codes on laboratory orders resulting in higher payments by consumers.

“The ethical problems of these corporations are of grave concern to Albertans because of our laws protecting private corporations from the public disclosure of ‘confidential business information’,” said Azocar. “These private contractors will not have to disclose how our public health dollars are being spent, allocated, or collected.”

Friends of Medicare is also concerned that acute care testing will be removed from hospitals and into the new private facility.

“In-hospital laboratories routinely do tests that have life and death implications for Albertans. Removal of acute care testing from hospitals into private, for-profit labs would be irresponsible and short-sighted,” stated Sandra Azocar, Executive Director Friends of Medicare.

AHS CEO Chris Eagle has said that the privatization will improve the quality of laboratory services, yet there is no evidence that private, for-profit delivery is more effective or efficient. 

“What we have seen in home care and seniors’ care is that for-profit delivery leads to decreased transparency and increased costs.  We have not had any public debate on how Albertans want laboratory services delivered. The private contract will result in minimal public oversight over the quality of our laboratory services.” said Azocar.

Friends of Medicare is calling on the government and Alberta Health Services to stop this attempt to privatize yet another integral part of our health care system.  We are calling on this government to learn from their previous mistakes and to seek public remedies instead of their ideologically-driven agenda to privatize one of Canada’s most important social programs.

“Albertans have had enough of the ongoing attempts to privatize our health care system,” said Azocar. “Our public health care system came about as a result of previous generations’ painful experiences with lack of adequate health care and lack of access to health care because of their inability to pay.  Alberta’s health care system is not a commodity to be traded in the stock market.”

Sandra Azocar, Executive Director
Friends of Medicare