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Heath coalition wants BC to deal with overcharging by private clinics

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VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Private clinic’s overcharging patients for medical services need to be held accountable according to the BC Health Coalition.

The group says the province must act immediately to prevent unlawful billing practices.

Co-chair of the coalition Edith MacHattie says the government needs to impose tough penalties on clinics that are abusing the health care system.

“The extra billing threatens the sustainability of our health care system. Queue jumping undermines the very Canadian principle of equity that shapes our system.”

Dr. Vanessa Brcic says a health care system based on need and not financial ability to pay is something worth defending.

“Anything else tells other for-profit clinics that it is open season on Canadian healthcare and that it is possible to break the rules and get away with it. We need a deterrent that sends a message that we need a strong public health care system.”

The government is currently negotiating a settlement with the Cambie Surgery Corporation’s Brian Day after a partial 2012 audit found Day’s clinics overcharged patients by almost $500,000 within a 30-day period.

“The priority of the Medical Services Commission, and the Ministry of Health, is to uphold the Medicare Protection Act and the benefits it safeguards for patients in this province. We expect and require these clinics to come into full compliance with the law. If that goal can be reached through an alternative process agreed to last month, we are willing to explore that with the other parties. If we are unable to reach an agreement through this process, we will go to the court for resolution. Physicians who are practicing at these clinics can bill the Medical Services Plan for medically necessary services, as long as they are complying with the Medicare Protection Act. As this is still an issue actively before the courts, we cannot comment further at this time,” Health Minister Terry Lake says in an emailed statement to News1130.

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