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Pitch to sell surgeries doesn't contradict extra-billing court case: Falcon

There's no contradiction between fighting in court against extra billing by clinics and plans to sell access to health services to people from other provinces or countries, said British Columbia Health Minister Kevin Falcon.

“The court case has to do with Canadians allegedly paying for medically necessary services which would contravene the Canada Health Act,” said Falcon. “What we're talking about is an idea suggested by some surgeons and doctors that we look at whether there's opportunities around foreign individuals coming in and creating a revenue generation mechanism that would allow British Columbia to get British Columbians on wait lists through the system faster.”

Last week the False Creek Surgical Centre's clinic director, Mark Godley, told the Tyee there was an “obvious” contradiction between the court case and Falcon's statements. It would be impossible to let people from elsewhere jump the queue without also allowing British Columbians to do the same, he said.

Selling services to people from elsewhere was suggested by doctors working in the public system who think the province should take advantage of “under-utilized surgical time” in public hospitals, Falcon said. “There's been a number of doctors that have spoken to me as I've been touring hospitals and facilities around the province.”

In October the Tyee reported a conversation between Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall and B.C. premier Gordon Campbell led to discussions of Saskatchewanians coming to B.C. for surgery, a proposal that died after Saskatchewan politicians balked at Falcon's suggestion they would have to pay a “premium” for service.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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