From left to right: Norah Bowman, Angela Allen, Scott Lovell and Al Peressini protest outside of the Okanagan Surgical Health Centre with invoices in the amount of $15.9 million. The clinic is suspected of illegally extra-billing patients. - Credit: Carli Berry/Kelowna Capital News

Update: Protest held at Kelowna surgical centre suspected of illegal double-billing

The protest was held outside the Okanagan Health Surgical Centre Tuesday

Updated: 4:22 p.m.

Dr. Brian Peterson, a surgeon with the Okanagan Health Surgical Centre, says having a two-tier medical system will allow shorter wait times for patients using public healthcare.

About 15 people stood outside the centre’s building Tuesday and presented a symbolic invoice as a statement against extra billing, which has had a negative effect on the public heathcare system. The protesters carried invoices titled “Past Due” in the amount of $15.9 million.

“It’s (the protestors) interpretation that a two-tier healthcare system is going to destroy healthcare in Canada… If you provide another line of access for patients, you’re going to shorten the list,” he Peterson. “They’re trying to protect the Health Care Act so that Canadians don’t have the right to seek private treatment.”

“It’s not like we’re coercing patients to seek private care and bill the government at the same time, we’re giving you the option. You can either wait or have it done privately.”

Dr. Brian Day, a former president of the Canadian Medical Association, continues a lengthy lawsuit challenging the government’s ability to bar procedures from his Cambie Surgery Clinic in Vancouver.

“This is before the courts whether or not the Health Care Act trumps the Charter of Human Rights in Canada,” said Peterson.

Original:

Kelowna residents gathered Tuesday to protest a private clinic that is suspected of illegally extra-billing patients.

Organizer Ken Robinson addressed a crowd of about 15 people, saying a symbolic invoice was created for the Okanagan Health Surgical Centre as a statement against extra billing, which has a negative effect on the public heathcare system. The protesters carried invoices titled “Past Due” in the amount of $15.9 million.

“Great Canadian universal public healthcare shouldn’t depend on the size of your bank account,” he said.

B.C. has the most private clinics in Canada and the longest waiting times for surgeries, which he attributes to extra-billing undermining the healthcare system.

During the protest, a member of the public said he paid extra because his wife was sick and she needed care as quickly as possible.

“That sounds like the U.S. heathcare system and I’m glad he had the financial resources to be able to do that, but here in Canada, we have a universal publicly funded system… when he does that, it means the wait list in the public system ends up longer. The proof in that is that B.C. has the most private clinics and the most extra billing in Canada,” said Robinson. “I’m very happy for his wife.”

No one could be reached for comment at the surgical centre Tuesday morning.

In early April, Minister of Heath Adrian Dix announced the province will be enforcing outstanding sections of the Medicare Protection Amendment Act. The act was passed in 2003, but some sections were not brought into force, according to a provincial government news release.

“Extra billing means charging a patient or a representative for health care that should be provided at no cost, because it is covered under the Medical Services Plan, or publicly funded as a benefit under the Hospital Insurance Act,” said the release.

Based on audits conducted by the Ministry of Health, Health Canada estimated extra billing for 2015-16 was $15.9 million, and in March federal health funding was reduced by that amount.

— With files from Tom Fletcher

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

West Kelowna Warriors dominate the Nanaimo Clippers

Three goals were scored during power plays

Fundraiser with wine to raise money for JoeAnna’s House

The Sovereign Order of St. John has committed to raise and donate $50,000

Okanagan artist donates painting to Okanagan College

Bryan Ryley, former instructor at the college donated an acrylic painting

Kiwanis Club donates money to Okanagan College

This establishes the Kiwanis Kelowna 2018 Legacy Education Endowment

VIDEO: Kelowna Rockets fall to Kamloops Blazers

The Rockets lost to their rivals in the regular season opener

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Fuhr: A looming pilot shortage

By Stephen Fuhr Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with local… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

The mountain pine beetle epidemic affected more than 180,000 square kilometres in B.C.

Most Read