Improved auditing highlights health statutes amendments

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Amendments are proposed to five pieces of health legislation making it easier for the government to review and verify health care claims and easing administrative procedures for Albertans who wish to opt out of the provincial health insurance plan. Bill 5, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2007 was introduced March 8 in the legislature by Dave Rodney, MLA for Calgary-Lougheed.

"We are committed to continuous improvement of our health care system and are responding to the Auditor General's recommendations to increase accountability regarding health care claims," said Dave Hancock, Minister of Health and Wellness. "We are also responding to Albertans by improving the administrative process for those who choose to opt out of the provincial health plan."

Amendments are proposed to following Acts:

Alberta Health Care Insurance Act: Proposed amendments will increase accuracy in the payment of claims and improve accountability in how public funds are spent. Amendments will strengthen the committees used by the minister to review claims submitted to the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, and will improve access to practitioner records so the department can confidently verify that medical services have been provided as billed. These amendments support the Auditor General's recommendations and will make it easier to conduct a full, proper review of claims. Amendments will also provide for greater representation from professional groups and the public on a roster from which claims review committee members will be selected.

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Health Insurance Premiums Act: Amendments will allow Albertans who choose not to participate in the health insurance plan to exempt themselves every three years, rather than annually. People will also be allowed to opt out at any time during the benefit year.

Mandatory Testing and Disclosure Act: An amendment to the definition of guardian in the Mandatory Testing and Disclosure Act is needed to include two additional types of guardianship from the Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

Pharmacy and Drug Act and the Public Health Act: Through the Pharmacy and Drug Act, Alberta currently automatically adopts the schedules of the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities. A housekeeping amendment will clarify the legislative authority of Health and Wellness to continue with the rolling adoption of this schedule as it changes over time. An amendment to the Public Health Act will clarify the legislative authority to adopt a standard, code, guideline or body of rules by regulation even as it changes over time.

Health Information Act: A minor housekeeping change is required to correct a typographical error.

These improvements to Alberta's health care system support Premier Stelmach's plan to improve Albertans' quality of life. Other priorities for the government are to govern with integrity and transparency, manage growth pressures, build a stronger Alberta and provide safe and secure communities.

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