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A welcome second chance for BC Medicare protection

April 11, 2018
 FILE PHOTO - Seth Klein is B.C. director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. PNG


FILE PHOTO – Seth Klein is B.C. director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. PNG

This article points out a few aspects that are not often talked about.

For every dollar of extra billing by a private for profit clinic, the federal government claws back an equal amount from its cash transfers. In 2015-16, that amount was $15.9 million, enough for 53,000 MRIs.

So effectively, we all pay for the extra billing.

(Cash transfers are the payments that every province and Territory receives from the Federal government for health care.)

B.C. is the only province that Ottawa has repeatedly fined for unlawful extra billing.

I believe that there is a misconception that private companies will be forced to close; this is incorrect, they can continue to operate as long as they follow the law.

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/colleen-fuller-and-seth-klein-a-welcome-second-chance-for-b-c-medicare-protection-amendment-act

Charter challenge issues strike at the heart of the principles of Medicare

April 10, 2018
Public unions hold a march in support of medicare - Brian McInnis

Public unions hold a march in support of medicare – Brian McInnis

BY PAULINE WORSFOLD

GUEST OPINION

(SPECIAL TO THE GUARDIAN)

A charter challenge case that could very well affect how health care is delivered in Canada resumes in British Columbia this week.

Dr. Brian Day, CEO of a for-profit surgery clinic, is challenging the ban on extra billing and the use of private insurance for publicly insured services under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, alleging that these laws infringe on a person’s right to defend their body.

Make no mistake. This case is about profit. Profit for doctors, profit for private clinics and profit for insurance companies. 

First, it is no coincidence that Dr. Day began this case after his clinic was audited and found in contravention of the B.C. Medicare Protection Act. Instead of paying back the money he gained through illegal billing, he decided to put medicare on trial.

Second, Dr. Day points to wait lists as evidence patients need the right to seek private care. However, that right already exists. Doctors can opt out of the public system and patients are free to pay the price for private service. What does not exist is the right to charge patients more than the public fee while at the same time collecting the public fee from the province. Using private insurance to pay the extra fees is also not allowed by law. In other words, it is against the law to use the public purse to subsidize private profits. Read more »

Message from the Canadian Health Coalition

April 8, 2018

“On Monday, the Cambie court case resumes in British Columbia and it seeks to overturn the ban on private for-profit health care. This case will likely to end up in the Canada’s Supreme Court and threaten our entire public health care system.

The Canadian Health Coalition is calling on people to stand up & pressure Brian Day to drop the case.

Can you take 30 seconds to help us amplify pressure?

  1. Add your social media to our launch by clicking here: https://www.thunderclap.it/…/69319-put-patients-before-prof…

Using this tool (Thunderclap), public health supporters will post on Facebook & Twitter in unison & dominate coverage

Thunderclap only has permission to share this 1 post via FB & Twitter & can’t access anything else. 

2) Add your name to our letter: http://www.healthcoalition.ca/sign-the-open-letter/

Please ask others in your organization to add their social media too. The more people who sign up, the bigger the audience, and the larger our impact will be on the way Cambie case gets covered — and ultimately its outcome.”

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 11.10.02 AM

BC Minister of Health to enforce Medicare Protection Amendment Act

April 4, 2018

 

Health Minister Adrian Dix said individuals with an income of $15,000 have been paying $300 a year while those earning up to $30,000 have spent $600 on prescription-drug deductibles. As of Jan. 1, 2019, they will no longer pay any deductibles. JOSHUA BERSON/HANDOUT NDP / PNG

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health 

 

The following is a news release issued by the Ministry of Health, April 4, 2018:

In addition to increasing access to surgeries and MRIs, the Government of British Columbia is bringing into force outstanding sections of the Medicare Protection Amendment Act, 2003, to further support patients and strengthen B.C.’s public health-care system, Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, announced today.

“I am taking action today to protect our public health-care system, and to correct the previous government’s failure to enforce the law, something done at the expense of patients,” said Dix.

The Medicare Protection Amendment Act, 2003, which enhances authority around extra billing, was passed in 2003, but some sections were not brought into force. Currently, the Medical Services Commission can audit practitioners and clinics, and can seek a court-ordered injunction to stop the practice of extra billing, but other actions are limited.

Extra billing means charging a patient or a representative for health care that should be provided at no cost, because it is covered under the Medical Services Plan (MSP), or publicly funded as a benefit under the Hospital Insurance Act.

During 2017-18, the Ministry of Health audited three private clinics. Based on these audits, as well as a previous one, Health Canada estimated that extra billing in B.C., in violation of the Canada Health Act, for the 2015-16 fiscal year, was $15.9 million. In March 2018, federal health funding to B.C. was reduced by this amount. Read more »

Thousands more MRI exams to benefit British Columbians

April 3, 2018
(flickr.com)

(flickr.com)

Ministry of Health – News Release
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

To give people faster access to the diagnoses and care they need, Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, has announced that 37,000 more magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams will be done throughout the province by the end of March 2019, compared to the previous year.

Under the B.C. Surgical and Diagnostic Strategy, 225,000 MRI exams will be completed in 2018-19, up from 188,000 in 2017-18. To meet these ambitious targets, $11 million is being made available in the public health-care system to add resources and capacity.

“This is a bold step to dramatically increase the number of MRI exams being done in B.C., and this coming year alone, the increase will be close to 20%,” said Dix. “We are delivering on our promise to restore services and find capacity in our public health-care system so that British Columbians don’t have to wait months and months for prescribed exams. We know that by rebuilding and expanding capacity in the public system, we will improve access to care and patient outcomes.” Read more »

Great News!

March 23, 2018

surgery

The B.C. government will be implementing strategies that will increase access to surgeries such as hip and knee replacement.

B.C.’s wait times for some key surgeries are among the longest in the country – and have grown in recent years.

The provincial surgical strategy includes:

• Funding for 4,000 more hip and knee surgeries this year. Ongoing targeted funding of $75 million starting in 2018-2019 and increasing to $100 million in 2019-2020.

• Five specialized hip and knee replacement programs throughout the province designed to support increased surgical volumes, reduce wait times, and improve continuity of care for patients.

• Centralized intake, assessment, and triage with a single point of access so that people have the option of seeing the first available surgeon.

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0010-000460

All Canadians deserve pharmacare, not just MPs

February 17, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 4.51.27 PM

Sat., Feb. 10, 2018

The MPs mulling options for publicly funding medications will take their sweet time. There is no rush for them because they already have the type of publicly funded access that is being contemplated for other Canadians.

While about 3 million Canadians do not take medications as directed because of the cost, MPs and other lawmakers enjoy platinum medication plans for themselves and their families.

I am glad that our elected leaders have access to life-saving medications like insulin that was discovered in Canada and treatments for HIV-AIDS that extend life expectancy by decades. It would be absurd to allow our leaders to die preventable deaths while holding elected office.

But it is also absurd that other Canadians must either pay for medications or go without. The consequences of untreated diabetes include heart attacks, strokes and death.

 

Are we prepared to allow people who work as food servers, artists or small-business owners to die from treatable conditions? I know that our elected leaders are very important but the lives and limbs of everyone else are important, too.

The publicly funded medicine plans for lawmakers may delay the needed policy changes. MPs and other lawmakers are insulated from our frayed patchwork system, where some people have public or private plans but others do not.

Studies in the United States have shown that lawmakers who have children in private schools are less likely to vote for laws that support public schools. Canadian lawmakers may be slow to support publicly funded medication access for all Canadians because they would not be affected by the change — their coverage is already great.

Over the past 40 years, multiple reports have recommended public funding of medications. The recent witnesses that appeared before the parliamentary committee repeated overwhelming arguments for including medications in our publicly funded system. According to surveys, Canadians overwhelming reject the idea that access to medications should depend on your job.

Dr. Nav Persaud, family physician, Toronto

 

 

 

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