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Gélinas continues action against unfair health-care fees

France Gélinas is opposed to the idea of having for-profit health services available where patients may be forced to pay for add-on services that should be covered by OHIP
Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas is seen here speaking in the legislature on Nov. 23, 2022.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas is continuing her push to fight against health-care providers that might charge what she describes as unfair fees for their services.

As the official opposition health critic, Gélinas is opposed to the idea of having for-profit health services available to patients who can pay the price for those services.  

She has put forward a private member's bill seeking to ensure there is recourse for any patient who is overcharged for OHIP health services. 

Currently, according to an NDP news release, for-profit clinics are exploiting loopholes to charge people for services that are covered by OHIP, and pile on additional charges on top of that.  

An example, said the NDP is that in 2021, Ontario's Auditor General found that patients were being pressured to forgo OHIP-covered lenses for cataract surgery and shell out thousands of dollars out of pocket.

On Wednesday, Gélinas spoke in the Ontario Legislature with a question to Health Minister Sylvia Jones, asking if the health minister would in fact support the private members bill "to ensure that no patient in this province is charged unfair fees.”

Minister Jones acknowledged there were "rare" occasions where fees might be overpaid and said "we have a process in place when, for any number of reasons, an inappropriate billing takes place. There is a process where we regularly review and refund when appropriate, if those fees have happened," said Jones.

Gélinas pressed the issue and said many valid sources in Ontario indicate that there is "inadequate oversight" on health fees.

"Patients are first forced to pay for unnecessary tests for add-ons; they are forced to pay hundreds of dollars, just in order to be able to gain access to OHIP covered services. Many reliable sources tell us that the oversight we have in place is not effective," said Gélinas. 

In responding to that, Jones said Gélinas is attempting to find a problem where there isn't one. 

Jones said her input from people in Ontario is more along the lines of ensuring how the government can continue to provide "exceptional care to the people of Ontario.”

The health minister said the province will continue to find ways to ensure that if people do not need to tie up hospital beds for certain surgeries or procedures, then the care can still be provided in their own communities without contributing to surgical backlogs, all while using their OHIP card.