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BC for-profit clinics charging extra. 'Patient based funding' runs amok?

The BC Health Coalition has released a report showing that for-profit clinics are charging patients extra to jump the queue for services covered by public health care:  "Research conducted over three months (June – August, 2010) by BCHC staff has revealed that for-profit clinics across the province continue to openly charge patients additional fees to jump the queue for services that are publicly insured." The BC Health Coalition’s report can be found here. 

Also this week, the BC government announced extra funding for 'patient focused funding' (aka price based funding), a funding model that has some similarities to 'fee for service' funding used in the US.  BC is  reported
to be increasing this form of funding to 20% of hospital funding by 2012-13. 

The NDP has called on the government to audit private clinics as they could be getting a share of 'patient-focused funding' for surgeries and MRIs.

BC Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon has acknowledged that private clinics may be getting some of the new funding: “Whether that is delivered through a private clinic or delivered through a public hospital is no difference to me as long as the quality standards are there and as long as it’s publicly funded.”

The Ontario government is also introducing a similar funding model, calling it 'patient based funding'. And there is
concern that it too will open the door to the privatization of hospital surgeries (along with a number of other problems).

The Ontario Health Coalition is holding public forums this week on the introduction of this form of hospital funding, garnering considerable media attention. Health Minister Matthews has responded by agreeing "patient based funding" will be a fundamental shift, but claiming it will translate into more incentive for hospitals to provide better patient care. "What we're saying now is, the more you do, the more you get paid."
Saskatchewan is also turning public hospital work over to for-profit surgical clinics:  a useful resource on the developments there can be found here.


dallan@cupe.ca

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