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Enforcement of Health Care Laws

On April 4, 2018 the B.C. Government made an announcement about improving enforcement of our medicare laws and protecting patients and public funds from unlawful billing in private, for-profit clinics.

The primary purpose, and design, of Canada's public health care system is that health care is a right, and access to necessary medical care is based on need and not the ability to pay.

It is through legislation that the health care system is laid out, And, it is through the enforcement of legislation that ensures the public health care system is preserved.

Lax enforcement in the past

Unfortunately, both the federal and provincial governments have been lax in enforcing our health care laws. And if you add inadequate funding of health care over the past decade to the mix, the result has been a proliferation of private investor-owned (for profit) private clinics (in B.C. especially) and the unlawful extra billing for medically necessary services of thousands of British Columbians.

Public Solutions to Wait Times

There are definitely problems in our health care system that need to be addressed. The solutions however, need to be public solutions that benefit everyone. Increasing private for-profit care is a false solution. International research has shown that two tier health care is more expensive, less efficient and has been shown to create longer wait times in the public system. (is there one report we could include?)

The Charter Challenge to stop Health Care Enforcement

In 2009, a group of patients who had been extra-billed at the Cambie Surgical Clinic, petitioned the Medical Services Commission to enforce the Medicare Protection Act. In response, the MSC told Cambie Surgical Clinic that it was going to be audited.

Rather than agree to the audit, Cambie, along with a group of corporate plaintiffs, launched a constitutional challenge against the Medical Protection Act, arguing that the audit should not take place until after it was decided if the rules against extra-billing and duplicative private insurance were unconstitutional. The Medical Services Commission was granted permission to audit Cambie. However, even though it was found that Cambie extra-billed patients for almost half a million dollars in a 30 day period, and that there was an additional $66,000 which indicated possible double dipping (charging both the patient and MSC for the same service), the courts did put on hold any enforcement response by MSC until after the constitutional challenge was complete.