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BC health clinic slapped for private billing vows to continue legal challenge

VANCOUVER - Several B.C. health clinics are continuing a legal fight to guarantee access to private care, in the face of a ruling this week that ordered two facilities to stop illegally billing patients.

An audit by the B.C. Medical Services Commission this week found Cambie Surgeries Corp. and the Specialist Referral Clinic, both owned by the same company, illegally billed patients for services funded under the provincial health plan.

Cambie Surgeries Corp. is part of a lawsuit that was launched in 2009, arguing Canadians have a right to timely health care that's not being provided in the public system.

Lawyer Peter Gall says an amended statement of claim in that case will be filed next week and will include individuals who required immediate medical care not available in the public system.

But Gall insists the timing of the amended statement of claim is not related to the B.C. Medical Services Commission's audit or the agency's order against Cambie Surgeries.

A similar challenge is taking place in Alberta by two people who say they were forced to pay for care in the United States because they couldn't get it in a timely fashion at home.

Vanessa Brcic of Canadian Doctors for Medicare criticized the B.C. lawsuit, arguing the public system can be changed.

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