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Quebec health minister says modifying accessory fee ban could be possible

Click to play video: 'Quebec health minister on abolishing accessory fees' Quebec health minister on abolishing accessory fees
WATCH ABOVE: Health accessory fees will be banned in Quebec starting Jan. 26, meaning doctors will no longer be able to charge fees but as Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, health minister Gaétan Barrette says he’s open to modifying the law – Jan 25, 2017

Health accessory fees will be banned in Quebec starting Jan. 26, meaning doctors will no longer be able to charge fees of $10 to $20 for services like vaccinations, ultrasounds and colonoscopies.

READ MORE: Quebec to end health accessory fees; doctors and clinics to absorb costs

“It will be impossible to have an added fee,” said Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, during an interview last year.

“Two examples: lately, we’ve seen patients who had to pay $200 for eye drops in order to have an exam or a treatment. That will go away. It’s going to be zero.”

Vaccinations for young children will no longer be available at the doctor’s office and patients will have to go to the CLSC for their shots.

READ MORE: New pilot project won’t open door to privatize Quebec healthcare: Barrette

Some are concerned this will cause delays in service because CLSCs are overcrowded.

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Barrette said the government could look at modifying the law in the future.

READ MORE: Health accessory fees coming to an end in Quebec

“It might be possible,” Barrette said.

“Today, it is not because people asked for the prohibition of user fees. When you write a law that says that, there are side effects.”

“It’s very sad that a health minister has this kind of vision because vaccination is an essential service,” said Parti Quebecois health critic, Diane Lamarre.

Lamarre blamed the government and doctors equally for not finding a solution.

“They have enough money,” she said of doctors. “For sure more than people who had to pay for many years $200 for eye drops or $10 or $20 for their vaccine.”

In September, Barrette referred to the health accessory fees charged by some specialists and general practitioners as “overbilling.”

READ MORE: Auditor general says Quebec government needs to control medical user fees

“Patients had to pay $150 to open a file,” Barrette said.

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To help make up for the loss of service in the private sector, the Quebec government has invested $21 million in the public sector.

 

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