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B.C. Medical Services Commission seeking injunction against Telus Health, alleges extra billing

Click to play video: 'B.C. government’s legal action against Telus Health could impact future of care in province'
B.C. government’s legal action against Telus Health could impact future of care in province
WATCH: The province is taking action against Telus Health but filing an injunction alleging extra billing. The LifePlus program is named specifically, which allows patients to pay to access services and has two locations in the Lower Mainland. Richard Zussman has more. – Dec 1, 2022

British Columbia’s Medical Services Commission has filed an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court against Telus Health alleging the company is breaking the Medicare Protection Act.

The action is being taken against the company’s LifePlus program.

Patients must pay to access LifePlus services currently advertised as providing access to support from a multidisciplinary care team and programs of prevention and early detection.

It is illegal under the Medical Protection Act to charge for primary care services.

Click to play video: 'B.C. health minister announces province will take action against Telus Health'
B.C. health minister announces province will take action against Telus Health

Telus has continually stated publicly the LifePlus program fees are strictly for the preventative care modalities, which are provided by a multidisciplinary team that is not publicly-funded.

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The Ministry of Health advised the Medical Services Commission earlier this year to investigate this issue.

“It is very important to uphold the Medicare Protection Act, which is in place to preserve our publicly managed and fiscally sustainable health-care system for British Columbia,” Dix said.

“Access to necessary medical care should be based on need and not an individual’s ability to pay.”

The Medical Services Commission was tasked with looking into whether the Telus Health LifePlus program has created disparity in patient access to critical services. The review also examined concerns that family doctors are closing practices and telling patients they can only continue on if they subscribe to the Telus service.

Read more: BC Greens call for immediate release of probe into Telus Health fee-based program

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Click to play video: 'B.C. reviews whether Telus Health program violates health laws'
B.C. reviews whether Telus Health program violates health laws

It is unclear whether the injunction will impact Telus’ other healthcare offerings, including the Telus MyCare centres currently operating within the rules in Vancouver.

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The BC Green Party originally raised issues around Telus LifePlus in February.

“While a million British Columbians go without a family doctor, and our emergency wards are full of sick children, Telus Health has quietly been charging thousands of dollars per year for access to primary healthcare,” Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau said.

“We have persistently raised this issue with the Minister and are relieved that action has finally been taken, but why has it taken so long?”

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