A doctor leading a legal challenge to a patient’s right to pay for private medical care says the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision not to hear an appeal means long waiting times have been “forcibly embedded” in the health insurance system.
Dr. Brian Day is CEO of Cambie Surgery Center, which has spent more than a decade in court with a small number of patients challenging British Columbia’s Medicare Protection Act, which prohibits additional fees and private insurance for medically necessary procedures.
They argued that in British Columbia’s public funding system, the long wait times amounted to a violation of patients’ rights to life, liberty and security of person under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The B.C. Supreme Court rejected the constitutional challenge three years ago, and the provincial appeals court upheld the decision last year. On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada said it would not hear an appeal.
In a statement, Day said Canada needs to bring its system in line with other better-performing publicly funded systems around the world and provide supplemental health care through legitimate private insurance.
“Because the Supreme Court did not even consider the rights of suffering Canadians on the waiting list, Canadians, such as the patient plaintiff in our case, who suffered consequences such as permanent paralysis and death while waiting for care and justice, were denied both ,”He said.
“It is now clear to all that medically unacceptable wait times are mandated to be embedded in and represent policy within the government-funded health insurance system. The courts have endorsed this practice.”
The Supreme Court of Canada did not announce why it chose not to hear the case. Only 7% of cases filed for appeal will be granted by 2022.
In the original British Columbia Supreme Court decision, Judge John Steves said that while long waits for care may increase the risk for some patients, the overall goal of the regulations is to support a system of access to health care based on need rather than ability. system. pay.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement that the Superior Court’s decision shows strong support for universal health care and the Health Protection Act that the provincial government is committed to maintaining.
“In 2018, we strengthened the Act with new protections for patients against additional charges, clarified the rules for physicians and imposed consequences for those who break them,” the statement said.
Strengthening the act would allow the government to “take decisive action” against violators and ensure that “the best interests of patients are prioritized and safeguarded,” Dix said.
Despite the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the province is working to reduce wait times, Dix said.
Ninety-nine percent of patients whose services were delayed during the pandemic have now undergone surgery, the statement said.
British Columbia is now “ranked first nationally for the percentage of patients meeting clinical benchmarks for cataract surgery and second for hip and knee replacements,” the statement said.
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