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Groups lining up against use of medical accessory fees in Quebec

The Quebec Medical Association (QMA) has thrown its support behind a legal review filed with federal court by FADOQ – the largest association of Quebecers over age 50 – calling for the federal government to apply the Canada Health Act and end the overcharging of accessory fees in Quebec clinics.

Earlier this week, the QMA participated in a press conference with FADOQ, reiterating its opposition to direct billing to patients for services insured in a universal health care system. The enactment into law of Bill 20 last year has allowed this practice to develop, contrary to the law of both Quebec and Canada.

"The protection of patients and elimination of inequality in terms of access must be the priority of the federal minister as well as that of the minister in Quebec", said QMA Vice-President Dr. Hugo Viens.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has also expressed concern with the charging of accessory fees with federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott, who has the mandate to protect and enforce the Canada Health Act.

“The CMA is concerned that the prospect of regulated accessory fees for insured services has the potential to undermine the Medicare program in the immediate and longer term,” the CMA said in a letter to Dr. Philpott. The letter also suggests that this matter could be addressed through a policy interpretation letter that would deem these accessory fees to be user charges subject to penalty.

The QMA is convinced that there are sufficient funds invested in health in Quebec. Some services that are presently covered and paid for by the government do not provide added value or benefit to the patient, while others that have direct consequences for the patient are only partially covered or not at all.

“The principle of universal access to health care requires the government to cover the entire cost for any medically necessary service,” concluded Dr. Viens. “We must therefore review the basket of medical services in this regard. The QMA is ready to work with Dr. Barrette (Quebec health minister) on this important issue for patients and the health care system.”

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