BC FORUM News – From The Advocate, Spring 2018
Moving quickly to strengthen public health care for people
Those who seek to profit by billing patients for medically necessary services now face new penalties. The NDP government has brought into force sections of the Medicare Protection Amendment Act, 2003, which were never enforced by the previous government.
With implementation of these new provisions, government has clarified the rules around extra billing, authorized the Medical Services Commission to refund beneficiaries in cases of extra billing and set out clear consequences for breaking those rules.
Any person who extra bills may now be required to refund the fee paid, face fines of up to $10,000 for a first offence, and $20,000 for a second offence if convicted of wrongly charging patients.
Practitioners may also be de-enrolled from MSP, making them unable to bill the public health-care system. Six private clinics are being audited this year to ensure they are not extra billing.
“The failure of the previous government to enforce the law has cost patients millions of dollars. This has to stop,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.
The government has also announced:
• A dramatic increase in hip, knee and complex dental surgeries, and a strategy to address other areas with long waits by investing in more surgeries and operating room efficiencies.
• Funding to cut wait times for diagnoses by providing 37,000 additional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams this year, with further increases in future years.
• Elimination of PharmaCare deductibles for families with net incomes of $30,000 or less, starting Jan. 1, 2019, and reduced deductibles for families with net incomes under $45,000.
• More than half a billion dollars over three years to improve services to seniors, including home support and residential care.
• A renewed long-term commitment to UBC’s Therapeutics Initiative which saves lives with independent reviews of prescription drugs.
• Cut MSP premiums in half, increased premium assistance, and pledged to end the unfair tax by Jan. 1, 2020.
“There’s not a government in Canada that’s taking the action we’re taking to support public health care,” Dix told a crowd of 150 in Sechelt.
He also said the government could not rip up a contract the previous government signed with Trellis to provide residential care beds, but had taken action to ensure workers’ jobs and wages would be protected.
Residential care is co-pay, and not part of Canada’s public health care system. No public beds were built under the previous government; about 70 percent are privately owned.