Doctors protest private clinic as deadline to stop extra billing passes

August 20, 2012

Vancouver Sun

Jeremy Nuttall

VANCOUVER — The provincial government will be soon be stepping up its campaign to bar extra billing at a well-known private health clinic, but the owner of the clinic says he’s keen for the fight.

The B.C. Medical Services Commission gave the Cambie Surgery Centre 30 days to stop charging patients for services already offered in the public system.

That deadline ran out Friday. Ryan Jabs, from the B.C. Ministry of Health, said the province will be proceeding with an injunction to enforce the order “shortly.”

Jabs couldn’t elaborate.

Dr. Brian Day, who runs the clinic, said he welcomes the injunction application because it will speed up his case and he’s confident of victory.

An injunction will give Day a court platform to argue why he believes the service he provides is necessary.

Day was part of a constitutional challenge launched in 2009, arguing the bar against allowing people to pay for private health care violates their democratic rights.

“How are you going to argue that a 79-year-old cancer sufferer with terminal cancer should be forced to wait 18 months?” he said. “’Cause that’s what they’re going to have to argue.”

More than a dozen doctors and health-care professionals protested outside Day’s clinic Monday, calling on the B.C. government to enforce the law and stop the centre from extra billing.

The group’s spokesman, Dr. Bob Woollard of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, said the federal government should withhold health payments to B.C. until the law is enforced.

Protester Dr. Vanessa Brcic said Day’s assertions that the clinic eases pressure on the public health care system are wrong.

“What ends up happening with clinics like these is those that can pay do pay and they do get to the front of the line,” she said.

“It provides exclusive care for them that has taken doctors and nurses out of the public system to deliver care for the wealthiest folks and then everybody else ends up waiting longer, and that’s what the research shows.”

Day brushed off Monday’s protest and accused those in front of his centre of being union members concerned about health-care workers, not patients.

“The strange irony is that nearly every patient we’re treating at Cambie today is a unionized worker,” he said.

The order to stop from the B.C. Medical Services Commission came in July after the results of an audit by the commission were released.

The audit found Cambie Surgery Centre and the Specialist Referral Clinic, both headed by Day, illegally billed patients for services funded under the provincial health plan.

The commission said more than 200 patients had been billed for surgeries valued at a total of around $500,000.

Commission Chairman Tom Vincent said the commission had no power to impose financial penalties on the clinic, but still ordered it to stop as it was breaching the B.C. Medicare Protection Act.

The developments in B.C. come after a lawsuit was launched in Alberta by two people who say they were forced to pay for care in the United States because they couldn’t get it in a timely fashion at home.

Read the article online here:

Related Articles/Posts

  • Health care constraints...November 11, 2010 The Globe and Mail Re: Nobody Should Profit From Health Care? Get Real – Globe and Mail, November 10, 2010 Karen Selick mixes up individual...
  • For-profit Health Care...
    What does the evidence say about private, for-profit health care? It’s not what you think.   Having more private, for-profit...
  • Should we pay for blood? ...April 15, 2013 Maclean's By: Anne Kingston On March 11, federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq took to Twitter to issue her first public response to media re...
  • Rx: National Pharmacare - July 2013...Presented as part of a First Aid Kit for Canadian Health Care at the Council of the Federation July 2013. As physicians, we confront the daily challenge of see...