Quebec supports cue-jumping for medical exams, despite warning from federal government

The federal government is taking a tough stand against two-tiered health care, especially in Quebec. It warns that if the province doesn’t bar access to private diagnostic services, it will cut federal health transfers.

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In a letter dated Aug. 8, 2018, the federal health minister issues a strong warning: patients should not pay for medically necessary exams — even if they want to.

“I don’t accept the justification that if some patients are prepared to pay themselves for an accelerated access for medically-necessary services, that we should permit them to resort to this,” writes federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor to then Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette.

Petitpas Taylor continues, “All of the fees imposed on patients for these services contravene the Canada Health Act.”

For the federal health minister, it’s a question of equality — she says access shouldn’t be faster for those with more money. In the letter, she warns that if Quebec doesn’t conform to the federal Diagnostic Services Policy, which comes into effect in April 2020, the federal government will cut health transfers to Quebec as soon as 2023.

The Quebec government said it would not bar access to health services in private clinics for Quebecers.

“I don’t want to increase this sector, but I have no intentions of decreasing it. I think right now, some people, they like to have access rapidly to some services,” said Premier François Legault.

“I don’t like to see the federal government telling us how to manage the health-care network,” he said.

Legault said this is an issue of provincial jurisdiction.

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