Protest targets private Vancouver clinic accused of extra billing patients

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      Protesters rallied at a private clinic in Vancouver which has been accused by the province of extra billing patients for publicly insured medical services.

      Around 30 people held placards and chanted on the sidewalk outside the Cambie Surgery Centre at Ash Street and West 13th Avenue today (August 20).

      The protest came after a 30-day deadline had passed for the Cambie Surgery Centre and the Specialist Referral Clinic, a related private facility, to comply with an order to stop extra billing.

      On July 18, the B.C. Medical Services Commission released an audit that found more than 200 cases where patients at the clinics had been billed for services covered under the Medical Services Plan. The charges totalled nearly $500,000.

      The commission told the clinics they had one month to stop extra billing—which is prohibited under provincial law—or it would seek a court injunction.

      Brian Day, a doctor and founder of the two clinics, has reportedly argued patients have the right to pay for medical services to avoid waiting lists. He also launched a legal challenge of B.C. laws following the release of the audit.

      Vanessa Brcic, a family doctor with the group Canadian Doctors for Medicare, called on the government to enforce the law in relation to the clinics.

      “We are here requesting that an injunction be filed and that the law be enforced in this case,” Brcic told reporters at today’s rally.

      “By not enforcing the law, the provincial and federal governments are essentially endorsing the support of a two-tiered healthcare system in Canada and that’s why this is such a significant issue,” she said.

      During the rally, protesters chanted “Universal healthcare, not more wealth-care!” They also held signs that read: “Care based on need not income”, and “Enforce the Canada Health Act”.

      Brcic said research shows waiting times for patients increase when people are able to pay private clinics to receive services sooner than those who rely on the public system.

      “If you want to siphon doctors and nurses out of the system to deliver care in places like this that are exclusive to only the wealthiest few, then everyone else is going to be waiting longer,” she said.

      Bob Woollard, a doctor with Canadian Doctors for Medicare, also spoke out at the protest.

      “We have concerns about the evolution of a second tier of care, that is a two-tiered system—one for the wealthy and one for the less-wealthy,” he told reporters.



      jonny .

      Aug 20, 2012 at 3:22pm

      I don't understand the issue.

      If a doctor does a hip replacement, does the province pay for it? Or does the province only pay CERTAIN doctors (or a certain number of surgeries per year) to do hip replacements?

      What I want to know is: if the province is refusing to pay their set fee they pay for hip surgeries to these new clinics, or are these doctors asking patients to pay more on top, and are thus double billing?

      I think the province should pay any doctors X dollars for a hip surgery. If a group of doctors want to start their own place to do the surgeries, who cares. But they should get the same fee the province pays, and not be allowed to bill extra to patients.

      paying extra for private health care will ruin the public healthcare.


      Aug 20, 2012 at 3:31pm

      Brcic was on the radio today, she sounds like a deranged wingnut. The health care system is a sham I can't wait for Brian Day to have his day in court.

      Avenging World

      Aug 20, 2012 at 10:00pm

      Canada is being dismantled before our eyes.
      Time to nut up or shut up.

      Some Guy Named Bob

      Aug 20, 2012 at 10:00pm



      The health care system is a sham? What planet do you live on? Our system costs HALF of what Americans pay and we have better health outcomes across the board.

      You're either an idiot or a paid-poster.


      Aug 21, 2012 at 10:50am

      Bob, who cares about the Americans. We spend way too much money and get way to few services for it. You're the one trying to skew the discussion by using the "American" option as a discussion. Most of just want better care at a resonable cost, what do you want?


      Aug 21, 2012 at 12:01pm

      Last year, talking with one of my contacts in SF, Ca.:

      he pays the same for a month of coverage for just himself (with a $2500 deductible)

      as I do for a year's coverage for a family of 4 (with no deductible)


      Aug 21, 2012 at 12:37pm

      Self-employed, did you notice that 25% off all provincial and federal tax you pay goes to paying for your "free" health care? Feel free to redo the math and get back to us.


      Aug 21, 2012 at 1:15pm

      NLN: Yeah. And your point is?


      Aug 21, 2012 at 1:39pm

      Self-employed - well my family pays a lot more for health care in Canada then we would in the States and get less service. That may be your idea of good value but it's not mine. Most European nations offer a blend of private and government care with better outcomes than us. Hell, 70% of all health care funds go to "private" doctor's clinics. Who's zoomin' who?


      Aug 21, 2012 at 2:02pm

      NLN: "well my family pays a lot more for health care in Canada then we would in the States and get less service"

      Now...."Who's zoomin' who?"

      Tell it to the fella I know in Tucson who pays 10k a year for less coverage than a Canadian gets, with a $5,000 deductible.