Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stronger measures needed to crack down on for-profit clinics, say doctors

Canadian Doctors for Medicare
July 19, 2012

BC’s Medical Services Commission called for an end to extra billing at afor-profit surgical clinic infamous for its illegal billing practices yesterday, in a movedoctors say has been a long time coming.

“We’re thrilled that the illegal billing practiced by the Cambie Clinic is finally being calledto account by the Medical Services Commission,” said Dr. Danielle Martin, chair ofCanadian Doctors for Medicare. “But there must be real consequences to chargingCanadians for their publicly-insured services.”

After a lengthy audit, the Medical Services Commission concluded that CambieSurgeries Corporation and the Specialist Referral Clinic (Vancouver) Inc. owned by Dr.Brian Day charged illegally in more than 200 cases, charging the BC Ministry of Healthnearly half a million dollars in extra billing. This violates BC’s Medical Protection Act.

Although the Cambie clinic’s actions are illegal, the BC government is only seeking toensure the clinic stops these practices in the future. Canadian Doctors for Medicare iscalling for stronger punitive action to create a real deterrent to extra billing by for-profitclinics, and for accountability to BC citizens for their tax dollars.

The Canada Health Act stipulates that the federal government may withhold one dollarof cash transfer for every dollar collected through direct patient charges – a penalty thatshould be imposed in a case such as Cambie, where illegal extra billing has been continuously rampant.

“This is a prime example of what happens when the federal government doesn’t enforcethe Canada Health Act,” said Dr. Vanessa Brcic, executive member of Canadian Doctorsfor Medicare. “On behalf of Canadians who are emptying their savings accounts into thecoffers of for-profit clinics like Cambie, the federal government should be taking a muchtougher stance on working with the provinces to stop illegal billing practices, andinvesting in care that all Canadians can access in our public system.”

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