This is a grim moment. Medavie Blue Cross is absorbing our health care system piece by piece. Its CEO, Bernard Lord, is trying to make us believe that he is acting out of pure altruism when he proposes to take over more services because he “can do better.”
This “nonprofit” company is costing taxpayers more and more: its bill to the government has grown from $100 million in 2016 to more than $200 million in 2022.
Medavie has already taken control of our ambulance services, of the extra-mural program, and of NB Health Link, which is opening clinics here and there in the province. And now, Bernard Lord tells us he also wants to take over Tele-Care 811 “to better coordinate” services.
The more Medavie “coordinates” our health care services, the more it takes control of our health care system. Let’s not be naive: Medavie Blue Cross is not a charity organization, and its CEO is not a volunteer. Lord’s huge salary is paid out of our pockets. He is there to make money, period.
Everybody knows that when a company has a monopoly on a service, it can then raise its fees. It can also dictate to the government what direction the service should take in the future. Meanwhile, our public health care system continues to weaken.
Every dollar the government invests in the private sector is money that the public sector doesn’t get. Private companies are offering health care workers more attractive working conditions to attract them to their clinics, where they will never have to work nights or work endless overtime. There, the patients will be much simpler to treat, since only the simple cases are chosen, leaving the more complex ones to the public sector.
As a result, the public system, already severely understaffed, is seeing more and more health care workers move over to the private sector. People are dying in emergency rooms because there are not enough people to care for them, and if they need to be admitted, the quality of care and services continues to deteriorate.
How can we really know what is going on in the services managed by Medavie Health Services? The company is not accountable to the public and, for commercial reasons, refuses to disclose any information on the effectiveness of its “innovative” management. You can innovate to benefit others, but you can also innovate for your own benefit. A company is not a charity. It is its own interests that it favors. Always.
When the health care system is in the hands of the government, it is accountable to the Legislature and to the people of the province. When the system falls into private hands, we lose our collective power and are unable to direct our health care to best meet the needs of the public, who pay for it.
What will we do when we find out that our personal data has “accidentally” been transferred to Blue Cross insurance company to better assess the risks associated with our medical records?
The growing role of private companies in our health care system is not the best solution to the crisis we are going through, quite the contrary!
Bernadette Landry has been an activist against all kinds of social injustices for decades. She is a member of the Dieppe-Moncton Regional Committee of the Association francophone des aînés-e-és du Nouveau-Brunswick and the New Brunswick Health Coalition.