Some things just need to be said...

Monday, August 08, 2005

The BC Liberal's Maximus Advantage

The not so silent sellout...

It is a Maximus Deal, one of many out there that is of concern and you and I are paying for it. Maximus is an American company operating out of Virginia. The BC Liberal Government as most of you will recall has contracted with Maximus, and American company to the tune of 324 million dollars over 10 years to provide MSP and Pharmacare services.

To date Maximus has been fined twice under the conditions of its contract with the BC Government. Fined for failing to meet specified deliverables. We at this time do not know what those fines are worth, though we are being told by BC's Minister of Health, George Abbott the fines are a deterrant and working.

In BC we have to take their word for it, the current government refuses to tell us how much the fines were or any other information under the guise that to do so would provide an advantage for Maximus' competitors.

What competitors is a good question. The deal is for ten years.

The next question that comes to mind is a name change, made with little or no fanfare. The government has put both MSP and Pharmacare into one program called Health Insurance BC (HIBC).
From BC Government website...
Health Insurance BC is the new name for administrative operations of the Medical Services Plan (MSP) and PharmaCare, including Fair PharmaCare. The programs and benefits have not changed - only the name, and our commitment to improved customer service.

The New program, HIBC has a nice ring to it, much like ICBC. What is the next step here? Could this be the first step toward selling off BC Government Health Insurance to the private sector or a Public Private Partnership? The road ahead is unclear in BC, we do know however that the BC Liberals are not really opposed to selling off crown assests or delivery of public programs by the private sector. The Supreme Court of Canada decision months ago telling governments to pick up the speed in delivering needed medical services or allow the private sector to do it means that every move of the BC Government must be looked at carefully.

Is the newly named HIBC set now to be hived off the Ministry of Health's books into a seperate crown corporation. That of course is speculation on my part but not far off in my opinion given the BC Liberal's actions to date.

Want some examples, consider that we still own BC Rail and BC Ferries. BC Rail exists on paper only (we own the tracks) and BC Ferries is no longer a crown corporation but a private company raising money from private investors expecting a return on their investment. We know ICBC has been told they have to make more room for private business to compete for optional coverage, the money making part of insurance.

The new bridge in Kelowna is a Public Private Partnership with the private sector company building it and receiving a 30 year deal to provide the maitenance. Again the BC Government will not release the full contract for reasons of competition. In effect, the government has entered into many contracts to avoid releasing information that would normally be available through freedom of information.

There are many warning signals here. Government is getting out of the delivery of core services, out of the responsibility for delivering these services. Don't be surprised if we in BC are in the not too distant future enjoying the benefits of health care and government as enjoyed by the good people of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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