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NDP government would have stopped clinic's extra billing: Dosanjh

If there had been evidence of extra billing by a private health clinic, an NDP government would have acted, said former Premier Ujjal Dosanjh.

Now a federal Liberal MP and health critic, Dosanjh also said the Conservative government needs to protect the public system and do more to oppose private clinics’ extra billing.

“There was no evidence, no known evidence at the time, of extra billing,” said Dosanjh, who was B.C. premier from 2000 to 2001. “I believe that evidence surfaced later on.”

The Tyee reported last week that Brian Day, whose Cambie Surgeries Corp. is in a lawsuit with the provincial government over extra billing, said both NDP and Liberal governments have been aware of his clinic’s billing practices and chose not to act.

Once governments see evidence of extra billing, which is illegal under the Canada Health Act, they are required to act, Dosanjh said.

He noted that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s federal government is yet to apply for intervenor status in the Supreme Court of B.C. case between private clinics, including Day’s, and the provincial government.

“That’s very worrying,” he said. “If the medicare protection act is held to be unconstitutional, then the whole health care system in the country becomes unconstitutional.”

A spokesperson for Health Canada took questions but did not respond to them by publication time.

The NDP government became aware not long before the 2001 election that Day was charging facility fees, a form of extra billing, said NDP health critic Adrian Dix. “Clearly action would have been taken,” he said. “The action would have been taken had the government been re-elected, but as I recall, it was not.”

The provincial government needs to proceed with an audit into Day’s clinic and uphold provincial and federal laws, said Dix.

Update, 11 a.m.: The federal government is "actively monitoring" the case but not intervening since it "does not present a challenge to the Canada Health Act," a Health Canada spokesperson wrote this morning.

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

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