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Alberta Tories debating to delist chiropractic


February 5, 2009
By Jodie Sinnema Edmonton Journal

Feb. 5, Edmonton, Alberta – The government is considering delisting about 30 services from
medicare that don't require coverage under the Canada Health Act,
Alberta's employment and immigration minister said this week. Hector
Goudreau said the province is debating whether services such as
chiropractic care and mole extraction should be removed from coverage.

"There's no need to cover them,"Goudreau told a Grimshaw Rotary club meeting Tuesday,
according to the Mile Zero News, a weekly paper in the town south of
Peace River. "Our system is totally not sustainable."

Goudreau, who is the area's MLA, said the money saved would be used to bulk up coverage under Alberta Blue Cross.

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After speaking with the local newspaper, Goudreau wasn't available for an interview with the Edmonton Journal.

Health
Minister Ron Liepert said the government is going line by line through
the entire health budget to make sure money is being spent properly.

"Quite frankly, I wouldn't be doing my job as minister if we didn't
look at every line of expenditure in our budget and ask the question,
do we need to spend that money?" Liepert said, noting that any-thing
protected under the Canada Health Act will continue to be covered.

Alberta
covers some services not listed under the Canada Health Act, including
up to $200 in chiropractic care, up to $250 for foot care and free
annual eye exams for seniors and children.

Liepert said the
government regularly examines what to cover and not cover. Last year,
for instance, the province announced it would cover expensive
catastrophic drug costs for Albertans with rare disorders.

Initially, Liepert said the province had no plans for delisting, then reversed course.

"I guess it depends on what you call delisting. All I said is we are in the process of preparing our budget."

In
2003,a report commissioned by the government found the province could
save $40 million a year by reducing–but not completely
cutting–coverage for chiropractic services, podiatry care and annual
eye exams for kids and seniors.

But the government axed the idea as soon as the report was released,
saying the savings were insignificant compared with the $7.3-billion
health budget.

Since then, the budget has ballooned to $13.4 billion and Alberta Health Services is facing a $1.3-billion deficit.

John
Church, a political science professor at the University of Alberta who
focuses on health policy, said he suspects the government wants MLAs
such as Goudreau to speak about the issue to see how much the public
will push back, especially in traditional Tory territory.

He said the government has more political leverage to consider delisting because of the bad economic times.


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