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THIRD WAY HOT TOPIC SPEEDIER HEALTH SERVICE FOR PATIENTS WHO CAN PAY (The Edmonton Sun)

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The Edmonton Sun 2006.03.02 Final News 12 CARY CASTAGNA, EDMONTON SUN ST. ALBERT 236

Several patients at Sturgeon Community Hospital said yesterday if the Klein government's Third Way helps reduce wait times, then they're all for it. But some fear the controversial healthcare reform will hurt the public system by dipping into the already short supply of health professionals. "I would be afraid that there would be too many doctors opting for private care. That would probably create a shortage on the public side," Esther Rankin, 77, told the Sun. Rankin, whose husband underwent bypass surgery in 2001 following a heart attack, said she needs more details on the Third Way before she makes up her mind on its merits. Harvey Voogd, co−ordinator of the advocacy group Friends of Medicare, said he's seen enough, and believes the Third Way violates the Canada Health Act and Albertans' fundamental sense of fairness. "Why should somebody be allowed to jump the queue just because they have money?" he asked. And Voogd said it's only logical to assume that for every hour a doctor spends in private care, that's an hour taken away from public care. "When you have a private−public mix, you want to make sure the private sector doesn't take away from the public sector," said Dr. Zaheer Lakhani, a consultant cardiologist at Sturgeon. The contentious reform includes allowing health providers in both public and private systems to charge for enhanced services and speedier access for knee, hip, cataract and hernia surgery. "For the most part, health care will not depend on your ability to pay and if you need that service right now ... we'll try our very best to look after that in the public system," said Health Minister Iris Evans, who was in St. Albert to open a new intensive−care unit and cardiac clinic at the hospital.

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