WATCH ABOVE: Families fighting for crucial surgery for their children with cerebral palsy say they have been rejected by OHIP. Several other families whose children have the same condition now say applying for funding seems hopeless. Christina Stevens reports.
TORONTO — Two families the Ministry of Health was helping navigate the application process to get OHIP funding for surgery in the U.S., said they have been rejected for funding.
The families were featured in a Global News series of reports about children with cerebral palsy seeking Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery in St. Louis.
Three-year-old Bentley Mitchell’s mother said they are no longer counting on the government to pay for the surgery in the U.S.
“We still don’t have that doctors signature they say we need to have,” said Melissa Mitchell.
SDR surgery is an OHIP insured service, with a letter of support from an Ontario specialist.
However, several families insisted no one in the province will sign.
The Mitchells said the Ministry of Health told them to fly to Calgary, at their own expense, for a referral.
With no guarantee of approval, they felt it wasn’t worth the risk, adding their application for OHIP coverage has since been rejected.
Six-year-old Alesandro’s scenario is almost identical, except his mom said they were told to go to Vancouver before being denied funding.
“The whole family is feeling the tension and frustration,” said Shana Ciampa.
Global News asked the minister’s office why they would send families out of province, especially considering that typically an Ontario specialist is required to sign the forms.
So far there are no answers.
The last time the Health Minister was interviewed on the subject was in July. He reiterated that the families could get approval within the province.
“That referral can and should happen,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins.
Seven families who spoke to Global News paint a very different picture.
An Orillia mom said she has talked to neurosurgeons across the province.
“They don’t feel like they can write the letter because they don’t perform the operation,” said Carlene Anderson.
“Well, nobody performs the operation in Ontario so we’re kind of at a standstill.”
The parents described the benefits of the surgery as “life changing.”
“We can’t cure our son but we can give him the best life that he is able to have,” said Melissa Perry, hoping to get surgery for her son.
The cost of the surgery and follow up care comes to about $100,000.
The families have all been fundraising privately, but are left with only one other option.
If the Minister of Health chooses to he could order OHIP to pay for the surgery, without a doctor’s referral.
All seven families are asking for his help. “Minister Hoskins I would appreciate if you would use your discretion and please order OHIP to okay this operation, said mom Carolyn Deneau.
“Why does my son have to keep living such a dehumanizing life when you have all the power to change that?” asked Samadhi Mora Severino.
Six year old Davi Boucinha, made a simple plea for the surgery himself.
“Can you exercise your discretion?”
The minister’s office has not responded to that question.