Physicians to protest as deadline passes for illegal billing to end at Vancouver clinics

On Monday, doctors and public health care advocates will gather to recognize a deadline for two private Vancouver clinics to stop billing patients for publicly-insured medical services.

On July 18, the Medical Services Commission gave the Cambie Surgery Centre and the Specialist Referral Clinic a 30-day deadline to stop what the commission called extra billing”after finding more than 200 cases at the facilities involving bills totalling $490,000. The commission said that if the clinics did not comply, it would seek a court-ordered injunction.

With the passing of the deadline, representatives from the BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare will hold a press conference at 10:00 a.m. Monday outside the Cambie Surgery Centre.

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“We want to bring to light to what’s going on and to call on the Medical Services Commission and provincial government to enforce the Medicare Protection Act and the law to crack down on the billing. Not just because there’s a law, but because of the principal of equity,” said Dr. Vanessa Brcic, a family physician and executive board member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

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The clinics, she said, are providing care only to wealthy patients. “And that’s taking doctors and nurses out of the public system and increasing wait-times for everyone.”

Both clinics were founded by Dr. Brian Day, who has filed a lawsuit against the Medical Services Commission, the minister of health and the attorney-general of B.C. Day alleges that denying patients access to private health care violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by denying him, “life, liberty and security of the person.”

Day’s suit is backed by the right-leaning Canadian Constitution Foundation.

“We’re supportive of Dr. Day and his cause,” Chris Schafer, the charity’s executive director, said. “We’re working with him and his lawyer. In a free society, people should be able to purchase health insurance and spend their own money on those services, especially in a system that’s not providing those services.”

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