A group of doctors who oppose the billing practices of private clinics rallied outside the Cambie Surgery Centre, Monday.
Public health care advocates and members of Canadian Doctors for Medicare demanded the Medical Services Commission (MSC) of B.C. enforce an order it gave to the Cambie Surgery Centre and the Specialist Referral Centre to stop extra billing.
In July, an MSC audit found the clinics had collected nearly $500,000 in extra billing. About $66,000 of that came from double billing, a practice that sees clinics charge the patient as well as the province’s Medical Services Plan.
MSC gave the clinics 30 days to stop the practices, which protesters say are a violation of the Canada Health Act.
The deadline came and went on Friday without any action being taken by either the MSC or the clinics.
Proponents of the private clinics have suggested they help people get timely health care.
But Dr. Vanessa Brcic, executive director for Canadian Doctors for Medicare, strongly disagrees.
“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,” she said, pointing to the Cambie Surgery Centre, “then everyone else is going to be waiting longer.”
Brcic hopes the MSC will take action by seeking an injunction to force the clinics to stop extra billing and forcing the clinics to refund charges to patients.
She said governments should also be enforcing the law, adding that under the Canada Health Act, the federal government could withhold $1 in transfer payments for every dollar collected through direct patient charges.