An audit found the Cambie Surgery Centre and an affiliated clinic billed patients for medically insured services

Audit finds private medical clinics illegally billed patients

Operators intend to defy order, fight province in court for right to offer private health care

Two private medical clinics in Vancouver have been ordered to stop extra billing their patients for publicly insured services after a provincial audit found them in breach of the law.

Health Minister Mike De Jong said B.C.’s Medical Services Commission has indicated it will seek a court injunction to enforce compliance if the Cambie Surgery Centre and Specialist Referral Clinic don’t cease and desist within 30 days.

The audit concluded extra billing happened in more than 200 cases totaling nearly $500,000.

The commission independently enforces the Medicare Protection Act, which ensures B.C. clinics operate in line with the Canada Health Act and that medical care is delivered based on need and not a patient’s ability to pay.

“That is the law in British Columbia and we expect every operator to operate within the law,” De Jong told reporters Wednesday.

“The findings today from the medical services commission suggests that in these two instances that has not been occurring.”

Former health minister Kevin Falcon ordered the audit in 2010 after a complaint that the principles of Medicare were being violated.

Dr. Brian Day, president of the two clinics, contends the law is unconstitutional and intends to fight any attempted injunction in court while continuing to operate as usual.

He argues patients should be allowed to pay for-profit clinics to avoid long waits for care in the underfunded public system, freeing up resources there.

“Done properly, opening up our health system to the greater availability to private health care will benefit everyone,” he said. “Canada is the only developed country in the world that denies its citizens that choice.”

Queue-jumping already happens for patients funded by WorkSafeBC or the federal government – including inmates and RCMP officers – and Day argues the broader public should also have the option, in line with a 2005 Supreme Court of Canada decision that struck down Quebec restrictions on private health care.

“Waiting for necessary medical treatment in the monopoly government health care system imposes significant financial, emotional, and physical health burden on British Columbians and their families,” he said.

Day’s clinics are already suing the government, arguing the Medicare Protection Act is unconstitutional and he said individual plaintiffs are joining the case, on grounds they needed immediate care available only through Cambie Surgery Centre.

NDP health critic Mike Farnworth accused the province of being slow and ineffective in cracking down against the clinics.

He also noted the province opted not to give the Medical Services Commission the power to fine violators when it enacted the legislation.

“They don’t have the enforcement powers they were supposed to have,” he said. “The government has slow-walked this whole thing.”

Farnworth said B.C. now risks being fined by Ottawa for failing to comply with the Canada Health Act.

Just Posted

Agassiz teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

AESS students say they had the experience of a life time

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

WATCH: Brother of missing Hope woman makes emotional appeal for more media attention

Next search for Shawnee Inyallie Nov. 18 along Highway 1 towards Boston Bar

Gas price drop expected to hit Fraser Valley today

Analyst says to take advantage, warns slight increase may follow

Players Guild challenges Chilliwack residents to solve classic Agatha Christie whodunit mystery

The Chilliwack Players Guild is performing Murder on the Nile from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Liberals to act quickly if Saturday midnight deal deadline breached: source

Oh Friday, Canadian Union of Postal Workers said it would not bring the latest offers to a vote of its members

Police probe several allegations of sex assault at Toronto school

Police say they have learned of other incidents of alleged assault and sexual assault

B.C. referendum ballot count jumps to 18% returned, Elections B.C. says

New count adds ballots received, but not screened for authenticity

Dead killer whale discovered on Nootka Island

“This is very concerning to our people.”

VIDEO: Protected bighorn sheep killed in B.C. Interior

The sheep are considered a species of concern because of their low population in B.C.

Missing-persons list tops 600 in fire-stricken California

Disaster escalates as officials raised the death toll to 63

Most Read