VANCOUVER, Jan. 31 /CNW/ - Concerned patient advocates, doctors and
federal health critic MPs are calling on Ottawa to take action on the
for-profit Copeman Healthcare Centre — a member-only primary care
clinic based in Vancouver and Calgary.
Copeman charges an up-front access fee of $3,900 and ongoing fees of
$2,900 per year that allow for preferred access to medical
practitioners working there, the majority of whom bill the public
health insurance plan for their services while only seeing patients who
are members of the exclusive clinic.
The BC Health Coalition has received numerous complaints from members of
the public who have been denied insured medical services because they
are unable to pay the thousands of dollars in additional fees charged
by the Copeman Centres.
"This is an issue of access to insured medical services on the basis of
need," said BCHC co-chair Rachel Tutte. "Health Canada must make it
clear to provincial health ministries that charging access fees for
membership in a primary care clinic violates the Canada Health Act
requirement to provide
health services on uniform terms that do not impede access," she said.
"Every time Copeman opens in a community it poaches family doctors and
other professionals from that community, leaving patients who cannot
afford its exorbitant fees without a family doctor," said Dr. Nora
Etches of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. "Charging large block fees and
unnecessary services to necessary ones undermines Medicare," she added.
"The appearance of concierge medical clinics such as Copeman is
troubling, because it will likely lead to the erosion of the overall
quality of health care in this country, and privilege some Canadians
over others based on ability to pay," said federal NDP Health Critic
"Nobody in Canada should be able to charge patients for medically
necessary procedures, whether routinely or on a priority basis," said
Liberal Health Critic Ujjal Dosanjh in a letter to federal Health
Minister Leona Aglukkaq. "I ask that Health Canada investigate this
clinic to determine whether it violates the principles of the Canada
Health Act," he added.
The calls come on the heels of a Quebec public health insurance board
investigation into Medisys 123 and other concierge primary care clinics
operating in that province, and follow last October's promises by
Health Canada to investigate Sentinelle Health Group in Ottawa.
"There have already been calls for Health Canada to take action on
Sentinelle in Ottawa and Medisys 123 in Quebec — it's time to add
Copeman to that list," said Tutte.
SOURCE British Columbia Health Coalition
For further information:
Lew MacDonald, Coordinator, BC Health Coalition: 604-787-6541 (cell)