B.C. judge rules against private care in test of universal system

Justice John Steeves said in a written ruling after a four-year trial that Dr. Brian Day and other plaintiffs have failed to show patients' constitutional rights are being infringed by the Medicare Protection Act, which focuses on medically necessary care, not ability to pay.

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has ruled against a Vancouver surgeon advocating for the right of patients to access private care in violation of a provincial law banning extra billing and private insurance.

Justice John Steeves said in a written ruling after a four-year trial that Dr. Brian Day and other plaintiffs have failed to show patients' constitutional rights are being infringed by the Medicare Protection Act, which focuses on medically necessary care, not ability to pay.

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Day, CEO of Cambie Surgeries Corp., had argued patients have a constitutional right to pay for private care when wait times in the public system are too long.

Opponents have said a two-tiered system would favour patients who are wealthy enough to pay for “queue-jumping'' private insurance as well as doctors who could bill both the public and private systems.

Lawyers for both the provincial and federal governments have argued such a system would erode Canada's universal health-care system and negatively impact patients with complex chronic conditions and the elderly.

More to come …

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