Are the Campbell Liberals opening the doors for U.S.-based health corporations?

News release

HEU files sweeping FOI request to shed light on government dealings with U.S. HMOs to own, operate B.C. hospitals

Days after the Liberal government adopted draconian contract-breaking legislation, the Hospital Employees’ Union today issued a sweeping Freedom of Information Act request targeting Premier Campbell and three of his cabinet ministers and their staff to determine if Victoria is negotiating to bring the U.S. hospital conglomerate Humana Inc. into B.C. to own and operate hospitals in the province.

“It’s logical for us to try to get to the bottom this,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt, “given that the Campbell government is pushing hard behind the scenes to build Canada’s first privately financed, owned, and operated hospital in Abbotsford.

“And we want to determine whether there’s a link between the Campbell government’s unilateral action to gut our contracts and a possible plan to bring a private U.S. company into B.C. to run hospitals.”

Allnutt says that given the provisions of trade deals like NAFTA that Canada is signatory to, opening the border to for-profit U.S health care conglomerates would have a devastating impact on public health care in B.C. and across Canada. “We’re trying to force the Liberals to come clean on their real health care agenda,” he said, “because their plans for the Abbotsford private hospital would attack the very foundations of Medicare.”

Letters were faxed today to Campbell, health services minister Colin Hansen, health planning minister Sindi Hawkins, and finance minister Gary Collins requesting a wide range of information about possible government dealings with Humana, or any other private health care corporation. Copies are available from HEU’s website, www.heu.org. The following letters are in pdf format and you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open them. Click here to download the most recent version of Acrobat Reader Click here to download the letter to Premier Campbell Click here to download the letter to Minister Collins Click here to download the letter to Minister Hansen Click here to download the letter to Minister Hawkins

The Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana is the largest health maintenance organization (HMO) south of the border. Humana currently faces a class action lawsuit filed under U.S. anti-racketeering laws alleging that the company systematically defrauded physicians. Last year the company was fined $1 million by the state of Georgia for improper conduct. Humana is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Its trading symbol is “HUM.”

During last year’s provincial election Campbell pledged to protect Medicare, and to get the public health care system “firing on all cylinders,” to make private for-profit care “redundant.”

“By actively promoting private hospitals for B.C., the Premier is breaking another fundamental election pledge made to British Columbians,” Allnutt says.