EDMONTON, AB (April 15, 2013): The Wildrose Official Opposition is calling for answers after uncovering an apparent instance of a health executive expensing medical treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request, Wildrose discovered that Michele Lahey, the former Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer for Capital Health expensed $7,225.30 related to a January 2007 visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The expenses included almost $1,000 for meals, ground transportation, and two nights in a hotel and $6,230.69 for what appears to be medical services. No claim was made for the flights between Edmonton and Minnesota. Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said the documents appear to provide a crucial link between the ongoing scandals of exorbitant expenses for senior health executives and health care queue jumping for politically connected insiders. “This is the first time we have evidence that the two scandals may be linked,” Smith said. “Here we have a senior executive in the former Capital Health Region expensing what certainly looks like medical services in order to skirt the long wait times in Alberta.
This needs to be investigated to the fullest extent.” The expense claim was submitted to then Capital Health CEO and former Alberta Health Services (AHS) board member Sheila Weatherill. It was copied to then Capital Health CFO Allaudin Merali. Weatherill personally approved and signed off on the claim. “If these expenses turn out to be what they appear to be, Health Minister Fred Horne needs to immediately recover the funds and return them to Alberta taxpayers,” Smith said. “Albertans won’t tolerate paying private health care bills for the executives that are messing up our health care system.” Wildrose is still waiting on FOIP requests for the expenses of 42 individuals involved in the health system, some of whom are actively fighting the release of their information. Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said confidence in the health care system continues to be rocked because of repeated instances of apparent abuse and mismanagement such as the Lahey expense claim. “To have everyday Albertans languishing on long wait lists for essential health care while health executives bill them for services outside the public system would be queue-jumping at its worst,” Forsyth said. “Albertans need to know that senior health executives aren’t getting around the long waiting lists they’ve created by expensing medical services outside of the public system.”
BACKGROUNDER: Page 287: Quarterly Summary of Michele Lahey’s Expenses detailing $7,225.30 Mayo Clinic Expense Claim. Page 288: Memo from Michele Lahey to Sheila Weatherill with cc to Allaudin Merali detailing the summary of expenses and that the item had been previously discussed. Page 289-290: Travel and Expense Claim Form signed by Sheila Weatherill on April 13, 2007. Page 291: Summary of Expenses. Ground transportation. Accommodation. Meals. Paid to Mayo Clinic. Page 292: Receipts for taxi, coffee, dinner for 2 and snack. Page 293: Receipts for taxi, lunch, dinner credit card slip. Page 294: Receipts for lunch for 2 at Edmonton International Airport, breakfast, and dinner credit card slip. Page 295: Receipt dinner for 2 complete with wine. Page 296-297: Marriott receipt, includes movie. Page 298: Statement from Mayo Clinic. Page 299-300: Excerpts from Michele Lahey’s Visa Statement confirming billings.