Doctors protest private clinic as deadline to stop extra billing passes
The provincial government will soon be stepping up its campaign to bar extra-billing at a well-known private health clinic, but the owner of the clinic says he's keen for the fight.
The B.C. Medical Services Commission gave the Cambie Surgery Centre 30 days to stop charging patients for services already offered in the public system.
That deadline ran out Friday. Ryan Jabs, from the B.C. Ministry of Health, said the province will be proceeding with an injunction to enforce the order "shortly."
Jabs couldn't elaborate.
Dr. Brian Day, who runs the clinic, said he welcomes the injunction application because it will speed up his case.
He says he is confident of victory.
An injunction will give Day a court platform to argue why he believes the service he provides is necessary.
Day was part of a constitutional challenge launched in 2009, arguing the bar against allowing people to pay for private health care violates their democratic rights.
"How are you going to argue that a 79-year-old cancer sufferer with terminal cancer should be forced to wait 18 months?" he said. "'Because that's what they're going to have to argue."
More than a dozen doctors and health care professionals protested outside Day's clinic Monday, calling on the B.C. government to enforce the law and stop the centre from extra billing.
The group's spokesman, Dr. Bob Woollard of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, said the federal government should withhold health payments to B.C. until the law is enforced.
Another spokesperson for the protesters, Dr. Vanessa Brcic, said Day's assertions that the clinic eases pressure on the public health care system are wrong.
"What ends up happening with clinics like these is those that can pay do pay and they do get to the front of the line," she said.
"It provides exclusive care for them that has taken doctors and nurses out of the public system to deliver care for the wealthiest folks and then everybody else ends up waiting longer, and that's what the research shows."
Day brushed off Monday's protest and accused those in front of his centre of being union members concerned about health-care workers, not patients.
"The strange irony is that nearly every patient we're treating at Cambie today is a unionized worker," he said.
The commission said an investigation last month revealed that more than 200 patients had been billed for surgeries valued at around $500,000.