Here are some questions asked by David on May 26, 2009:
Out-of-country Health Services
Dr. Swann: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today the Alberta
Ombudsman released his report on the administration of out-of country
health services. The fact that there are 53 recommendations
contained within the report speaks to a serious problem regarding
transparency and accountability in this program. To the minister.
It’s the minister’s responsibility to ensure fairness and transparency
of administration of all boards, committees, and agencies in his
ministry. Will the minister accept the recommendations from the
Ombudsman and fix this program?
Mr. Liepert: Well, Mr. Speaker, I don’t know how much more
arm’s-length and transparent one can be but to have an arm’s-length,
transparent, independent committee of experts that reviews out-of country
claims by Albertans. It’s that particular committee that
makes the decisions. I’m sure that the Leader of the Opposition –
I’m not sure if he’s asking for political interference in how this
committee operates. It’s a committee of medical experts that make
decisions based on medical evidence.
Dr. Swann: This is a program relied upon by vulnerable Albertans
in desperate situations. There have been previous concerns raised,
and the minister took no action. What is the minister’s explanation
for not fulfilling his responsibility to his office?
Mr. Liepert: Well, it sounds like the Leader of the Opposition is
asking for political interference in a committee that is at arm’s
length from the government, Mr. Speaker. This is a committee that
is set up to ensure several things. One, that those who need to seek
out-of-country services and cannot find them in this province have
that opportunity to be reimbursed. But we also have to ensure – and
that’s why the committee is in place – that we don’t have Albertans
jumping the queue and going out of province and getting reimbursed
by the taxpayers of Alberta.
Dr. Swann: Well, Mr. Speaker, the fact that the Ombudsman
initiated this on his own, one of a few instances in which he has done
that, suggests this minister is out of line with that remark.
Will the minister direct the Out-of-country Health Services
Appeal Panel to hear the four cases that the Alberta Ombudsman has
again identified for redress?
Mr. Liepert: Mr. Speaker, the appeal panel has the Ombudsman’s
report, and they’ll act accordingly.