FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Canadian doctors demand immediate action as the Copeman Healthcare Centre stands accused of violating Canada Health Act
TORONTO (May 30, 2016) – For the second time in a month, Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) renewed its appeal to Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott to take immediate action against extra billing practices and enforce the Canada Health Act.
CDM’s call comes as a reaction to recent news the Copeman Healthcare Centre’s for-profit medical clinics in Edmonton and Calgary are “double dipping” and billing patients and the province for the same medical services that are covered by provincial insurance. In addition to extra-billing, Copeman Healthcare Centres are accused of over testing their patients as part of their “executive health packages.”
As Dr. Monika Dutt, Chair, Canadian Doctors for Medicare explained, tolerating either extra billing or overtesting has real consequences for all Canadians.
“Executive health packages bundled with extensive diagnostic testing offered in clinics like Copeman may not be illegal, but they can often lead to excessive costs to the system, and risks to the patient,” said Dutt. “Adding a second tier to the health care system by extra billing has a similar effect plus it is illegal.”
When doctors begin charging auxiliary fees such as extra billing, it creates a two-tier health care system: one for those who can afford it and one for those who cannot. Evidence shows that private for-profit clinics, like those operated by Copeman Healthcare Centre, drain the limited supply of doctors and other health professionals from the rest of the health care system, lengthening waiting lists and reducing access.
The provincial government says it is conducting a full audit of Copeman Healthcare Centre’s practices. Regardless of the province’s investigation, Dutt and the board of CDM are concerned Minister Philpott is moving too slowly to quell possible infractions in other provinces.
Earlier this month, CDM supported FADOQ’s petition to the Federal Court asking the judiciary to issue a writ of mandamus to compel Minister Philpott to end extra-billing practices in their province. The minister responded with a promise that her government would uphold the Canada Health Act but offered no timelines or action.
“Extra billing is not a trend -- it is a Canadian pandemic that threatens the sanctity of Canada’s most treasured social program and access to medically necessary care,” Dutt continued. “Canadians need our government to stand up for health care.”
Canadian Doctors for Medicare provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada's universal publicly-funded health care system. We advocate for innovations in treatment and prevention services that are evidence-based and improve access, quality, equity and sustainability.
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