VANCOUVER (April 5, 2018) – Doctors across Canada applaud the BC Government’s announcement to finally enforce key provisions in the Medicare Protection Amendment Act (MPAA).
The MPAA was passed in 2003 with the intent to enable governments to enforce against the unlawful billing of healthcare services. Although the MPAA set a precedent for protecting the values and principles of Medicare, it was never fully implemented or enforced by previous governments, until now. The new enforcement provisions will create new tools to ensure that individuals are refunded for the costs of unlawful billing, and improve the way that collections are enforced. For example, if doctors or clinics have unlawfully billed patients for medically necessary care, those patients will now be able to apply to the government for a refund. The BC government will now also be able to collect back directly from the doctors and clinics to cover the costs of the refunds. It also includes provisions for fining doctors and clinics found to be in violation of the law.
“Over the past 15 years, little has been done in BC to enforce the laws which protect the public health care system that we all cherish,” said Dr. Michael Klein from Canadian Doctors for Medicare. “In the absence of enforcement we have seen the expansion of private payment in private diagnostic and surgical clinics claiming to offer quicker access to care, and doing so at a significant cost to patients.”
While the expansion of private for-profit surgical centers and MRI clinics has been touted as a pressure release valve for patients on wait lists in the public system, evidence shows expanding these services directs resources away from the public system, lengthens wait times for those that depend on it, and erodes equitable access to medically necessary care. There are countless examples of other innovative approaches that can not only reduce wait times, but also improve the quality of care patients receive, while protecting equitable access to care for all. The recently announced BC Surgical and Diagnostic Strategy is one example.
“It is encouraging to see the BC government not only crack-down on illegal extra-billing, but make necessary investments to improve the capacity of the public health care system that so many British Columbians depend on, regardless of their financial means,” said Dr. Danyaal Raza, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
Once the new enforcement regulations are put into force on October 1, 2018, the MPAA will include consequences for physicians and clinics found to be in violation of the law, including fines, and patients who have been illegally billed will be able to report potentially illegal billing to the Medical Services Commission and seek a refund from the Commission.
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Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada's universal publicly-funded health care system. CDM advocates for innovations in treatment and prevention services that are evidence-based and improve access, quality, equity and sustainability.