Accessory fees: a botched case

MONTRÉAL, Sept. 21, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Despite the announcement of the abolition of accessory fees last September 14 by Minister Barrette, the battle is far from over. With the emergence of a confrontation between the federal and provincial governments concerning federal health transfers, we can't lose sight of what's important: Citizens' rights are still not being respected since the Regulation will come into effect only in January 2017, resulting in another $20 million charged to patients in the meantime.

"All types of accessory fees must be abolished – immediately – as there is no possible justification for delaying the prohibition of a practice that has been recognized by all levels of government as illegal. How can we justify more delays when patients have already been waiting for at least ten years? We're concerned that the Minister may be tempted to negotiate particular agreements with medical associations to implement compensatory measures for accessory fee losses," said Réseau FADOQ Director General, Danis Prud'homme.

This mistrust in Minister Barrette is quite justified, according to the Réseau FADOQ and Jean-Pierre Ménard. Certainly, the Minister's response to federal government pressure, and his announcement of the "abolition" of fees a week ago, was completely improvised. The Loi sur l'assurance maladie du Québec in its current form still gives the Minister the power to allow accessory fees by Regulation, meaning the root of the problem still exists. Furthermore, the announcement was made even though the Regulation will only become available September 28 and without due process.

"Statements made by Minister Barrette since the release of the letter from his federal counterpart are also a concern. Minister Barrette has suggested that the Canada Health Act does not apply, which is factually and legally false," said Jean-Pierre Ménard.

The Réseau FADOQ and Mr. Ménard said they welcome the federal Minister's intervention in the case, a direct result of the application for mandamus to the Federal Court that obliged the Minister to uphold the Canada Health Act. It is important to remember that this action was taken after all other recourses to Minister Barrette and his predecessors were unsuccessful.

"Today, if Québec finds itself in a weak position versus Ottawa regarding federal health transfers, Dr. Barrette has only himself to blame. His laxity, disregard for the law and single-mindedness in establishing measures that assault the very foundations of our universal health care system have led to a scenario where citizens may pay the price. It is perhaps an appropriate time to ask whether someone else should take the reins of the Ministry of Health and Social Services" Jean-Pierre Ménard and Danis Prud'homme commonly declared.

 

SOURCE FADOQ

For further information: Sources and information: Caroline Bouchard, Public Affairs Advisor, Réseau FADOQ, 514 793-2533, caroline.bouchard@fadoq.ca; Sophie Gagnon, Media relations, Réseau FADOQ, 450 775-0316, sophiegagnon@sympatico.ca; Mr. Jean-Pierre Ménard, Lawyer, Cabinet Ménard, Martin avocats, 514 253-8044

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