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Private clinics spread across Alberta (and Canada)

The Canadian Press reports that, “Less than one year after a private medical clinic opened in Calgary to angry protests, similar ‘members only’ facilities are spreading across the province.”

“Several other clinics have opened or are in the works (since the Copeman Clinic opened in Calgary in September 2008), including Provital Health and Wellness, which is to open next month in Calgary.”

“Copeman, which has several locations in British Columbia, has also said it will open an Edmonton clinic within months… Its website promises a location in Toronto in 2009, with other provinces to follow.”

David Eggen, executive director of Friends of Medicare, says, “It’s obviously extra billing and queue jumping. If this goes on unregulated, it’ll spread like wildfire…”

Irfan Dhalla, a Toronto physician with Canadian Doctors for Medicare, says, “First and foremost, charging patients fees for access to medically necessary services undermines the key principles of medicare. And if patients have to pay a fee to gain access to insured health services, then that’s illegal. By moving towards this model, it creates a situation where it’s even more difficult for people who are looking for family doctors to find them.”

The article highlights that, “Gerard Boychuk, a political science professor at the University of Waterloo… says it would be difficult to prove that the clinics violate of the (Canada Health Act). The part of the law which refers to user fees is very specific, he says. …Someone would have to prove that they refused to pay the membership fee and were therefore refused medically necessary treatment.”

The full article is at