Article du journal The Gazette : Group for the disabled denounces medical accessory fees

Article du journal The Gazette : Group for the disabled denounces medical accessory fees
Nouvelles - 7 décembre 2015
Article du journal The Gazette : Group for the disabled denounces medical accessory fees

Article du journal The Gazette par AARON DERFEL

Revue de presse suite à nos actions menées le 3 décembre 2015, lors de la Journée internationale des personnes handicapées.

Campagne de mobilisation #ÇaDéborde M. Couillard portant principalement sur les #FraisAccessoires en santé

Most people with disabilities are unable to afford extra fees. A study by the Institut de la statistique du Québec shows that 55 per cent of the province’s disabled population earns less than $15,000 a year.

What if a group for the disabled held a news conference at the National Assembly and hardly anyone showed up ?

That’s what happened on Thursday, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, when the group Ex aequo unveiled a YouTube video in Quebec City to raise concerns about the impact of private medical accessory fees on society’s most vulnerable. A reporter for Le Soleil was the sole journalist to write about the event.

“Unfortunately, this happens to us often,” said Alexandra D’Amours, a spokesperson for the group. “I think everyone is sympathetic toward people with disabilities, but there is less interest to mobilize.”

The group denounced the fees that medical specialists and family physicians are increasingly charging patients in their private clinics, and expressed concern that Health Minister Gaétan Barrette wants to expand the range of fees and legalize those that might now be considered illegal. The government last month adopted Law 20, the second phase of Barrette’s health reforms, which will establish a new structure for accessory fees.

“When we review the list of accessory fees by the Quebec Federation of General Practitioners, we see that a majority of the fees touch services that are provided to people with disabilities — whether they might be splints, large bandages or injectable medications,” said Martin Juneau, president of Ex aequo.

Yet most people with disabilities are clearly unable to afford such fees, he added. He cited a figure by the Institut de la statistique du Québec that 55 per cent of the province’s disabled population earns less than $15,000 a year.

Joanne Beauvais, Barrette’s press attaché, said the government will heed the concerns of people with disabilities.

“This is exactly why we tabled an amendment on accessory fees,” Beauvais said. “Some of those things that they are concerned about are simply illegal or way too expensive.”

Law 20 gave the government, and Barrette in particular, the power to set fees by decree. The Health Department has already received a list of fees drawn up by the federations representing GPs and specialists. The next step will be to hire an independent accounting firm to determine the true cost of the fees — a process that will unfold in the coming months.

An Oct. 1 report on accessory fees by Quebec’s Ombudsman found that some clinics are charging “exorbitant” fees and she gave some examples : $300 for eye drops ; $100 to freeze off a wart ; $40 to apply a four-centimetre bandage ; and $200 to insert an intrauterine device.

The ombudsman concluded that accessory fees (also known as ancillary fees) “compromise the principles of universality and accessibility in the public system.”

According to a study of a group of low-income patients in Pointe-Saint-Charles that was made public two weeks ago, 527 were billed a total of $40,775 in accessory fees from February to August of this year. Some respondents said they could not afford to pay certain fees because they needed the money for groceries or rent.

aderfel@montrealgazette.com

Twitter.com/Aaron_Derfel