Some­thing’s gotta give

Trudeau Lib­er­als leave hos­pi­tals on hook for mil­i­tary health care

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - Mark BONOKOSKI mark­[email protected] @Mark­bonokoski

The next time Justin Trudeau rat­tles on end­lessly about the bo­gey­men mak­ing cuts to ser­vices — like that bad-boy Doug Ford or his evil twin Ja­son Ken­ney — he had best add his own name to his hit list.

When you cut the amount of med­i­cal as­sis­tance to mem­bers of our Armed Forces by stiff­ing hos­pi­tals, what’s next? New­born ba­bies?

An ex­clu­sive by Global News has the Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fence (DND) qui­etly but sig­nif­i­cantly cut­ting its mil­i­tary health­care spend­ing, and it did so by rolling back what it pays hos­pi­tals to take care of our mil­i­tary per­son­nel.

It was not a last-re­sort move, but ap­par­ently DND’S first.

The re­sult re­port­edly leaves hos­pi­tals on the hook for mil­lions, and mil­i­tary mem­bers wor­ried that they might now be de­nied care for es­sen­tially be­ing looked upon as treatand-run scofflaws.

This does not look good on the Trudeau Lib­er­als, con­sid­er­ing their vow in the 2015 elec­tion cam­paign was to right the wrongs against our mil­i­tary, as well as fi­nally treat our vet­er­ans with the re­spect they de­serve.

Once elected, how­ever, those prom­ises quickly cir­cled the drain.

Un­der the Canada Health Act, as well as all pro­vin­cial health acts, our Armed Forces are not el­i­gi­ble for the uni­ver­sal pub­lic health ser­vices that av­er­age Cana­di­ans have long taken for granted.

In­stead, the fed­eral govern­ment is con­sti­tu­tion­ally re­spon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing tit-for-tat med­i­cal care to all its mil­i­tary per­son­nel, al­though more ad­vanced pro­ce­dures like surg­eries or MRIS are pro­vided by whatever civil­ian hos­pi­tal within range has the abil­ity.

The mil­i­tary is then sup­posed to re­im­burse the hos­pi­tal for those ser­vices.

For per­spec­tive, it’s ba­si­cally the same model used for treat­ing out-of-prov­ince pa­tients, with the only thing miss­ing be­ing the pay­ment for ser­vices which DND de­cided not to hon­our back in the spring.

It is no way to treat our mil­i­tary, who put it on the line for each and ev­ery one of us, and no way to treat hos­pi­tals al­ready un­der siege for prac­tis­ing hall­way medicine and hav­ing wait times in emer­gency so long that it verges upon the un­con­scionable.

The Ot­tawa Hos­pi­tal’s Gen­eral cam­pus, for ex­am­ple, had the long­est av­er­age ER wait time of any hos­pi­tal in On­tario in July at 3.6 hours.

Con­sid­er­ing all my ad­ven­tures at that hos­pi­tal, 3.6 hours would seem more like ex­press ser­vice.

One prob­lem adding fuel to the fire is that On­tario, for ex­am­ple, has one set of rates for av­er­age Joes like me and an­other set of fees from the On­tario Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (OMA) for ser­vices not cov­ered by OHIP, all of which draws our mil­i­tary into the line of fire.

As cited by Global News as an ex­am­ple, physi­cians could bill $105 for psy­chi­atric as­sess­ment un­der OHIP but, un­der the OMA’S pa­ram­e­ters, they can charge $240 for the very same ser­vice.

So, some­thing has to give. Leav­ing hos­pi­tals on the hook for mil­lions ap­pears to be DND’S an­swer, the ex­cuse by Steve Buick, spokesman for De­fence Min­is­ter Har­jit Sa­j­jan, is that they were blind­sided by DND and “not con­sulted about the change.”

Bot­tom line, how­ever, the Pem­broke Re­gional Hos­pi­tal, lo­cated close to the Cana­dian Forces base in Petawawa has pro­jected a re­sul­tant loss of $3.4 mil­lion.

The Kingston Health Cen­tre, lo­cated near a mil­i­tary base as well as the Royal Mil­i­tary Col­lege, sees a hit of $2.3 mil­lion.

The to­tal bill from On­tario hos­pi­tals that DND has thus far re­fused to pay — ob­vi­ously with the sup­port of the Trudeau Lib­er­als who’ve done noth­ing to over­turn it — is es­ti­mated to be at least $10 mil­lion.

So much for ethics and ac­count­abil­ity.


Justin Trudeau pre­pares for an interview at CTV stu­dios in Toronto yes­ter­day.

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