Extra fees - Lawsuit to force the federal government to end immediately the practice of charging patients extra fees

Tuesday, May 3, 2016 Medico Legal News J E 4

MONTRÉAL, May 3, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - "By taking the legal route, we hope to force the federal Minister to take action on the issue of extra patient fees in Québec by enforcing the Canada Health Act (CHA)," says the Réseau FADOQ, the party applicant, supported by tens of organizations representing civil society, unions, patients, physicians, and others. A petition for a writ of mandamus was filed yesterday with the Federal Court of Canada by lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard Ad. E., who specializes in the defence of patient rights. The purpose of this action is to obtain a court order that forces a public authority (here, Canada's Minister of Health) to fulfill a statutory duty. In this case, the Minister is obligated to prevent overbilling through extra fees.

The information coming from a government source to the effect that Quebec wanted to put an end to practice of charging extra fees by integrating them in the doctors' compensation does not solve anything.

In fact, the current negotiations are in the early stages and are foreseen to be difficult. It will take several months to reach an agreement. In the meantime, patients will continue to pay considerable extra fees. Also, the outcome of these negotiations is uncertain, and there is no guarantee for the patients that the enforcement will be stricter than the current agreement for which the application has become so disarrayed.

If the Minister wants to abolish the extra fees, he can do it immediately by revoking the power he gave himself in Bill 20 of authorizing extra fees. By revoking this subsection of the law, all extra fees become prohibited and the law can be enforced immediately.

"The Minister's plan to put an end to extra fees via negotiations shifts the burden and the risks on patients. For far too long, Québec patients—most of whom are seniors—have been cheated by having to pay twice for medical acts already insured by the government health insurance plan. Every day, they tell us how distraught they are because they cannot afford to pay for these medically necessary services. This cannot go on!" says Danis Prud'homme, Director General of the Réseau FADOQ, on behalf of the organizations in attendance.

The petition was filed on May 2 under sections 18 to 21 of the CHA, which stipulate, among other provisions, the conditions the provinces must meet in order to collect the full amount of the Canada Health Transfer. 

"Basically, section 18 stipulates that a province is not entitled to its full compensation when there is overbilling. Section 20 indicates that the amount of the overbillings is deducted from the federal contribution. In the case at hand, extra fees are billed illegally and improperly to patients in Québec. Valiant measures are needed to end this practice," explains Jean-Pierre Ménard Ad. E.

With this suit, the organizations want the federal Minister of Health to take concrete action to prohibit overbilling through extra fees, including any permitted by recent changes to Québec statutes.

The Réseau FADOQ brings together and represents people age 50 and over in order to preserve and improve their quality of life. It defends and promotes their rights, emphasizes their contribution to society, and supports them through programs, services and activities. The organization has over 440,000 members and is the largest seniors' body in Canada.





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