Using phrases like “messed-up”, “taxi-like”, and “unacceptable”, the NDP’s leader decried the current state of Saskatchewan’s ambulance fee system, and proposed a new one.
Currently patients have to pay out-of-pocket for transfers between healthcare facilities, and a per-kilometre rate. A basic call pick-up rate for an ambulance varies from $245 to $325, and the per-kilometre fee is at $2.30 according to the NDP.
Calling it the worst ambulance fee system in the country on Saturday, NDP leader Cam Broten promised to change it. He said if the NDP forms government, it will eliminate the cost to patients for transfers between facilities, and the per-kilometre fee.
“That barrier to healthcare shouldn’t be there. This is fundamental to people accessing the healthcare that they need. We should not have these types of bills associated with the basic care and emergency care that people need,” said Broten.
Broten brought up the story of Sara-Bucsis Gunn and her daughter Leandra, which first came up in 2013. Leandra was born with some serious medical problems, and her family got hit with massive ambulance bills in getting her to and from the hospital.
Broten said the coming election is about priorities, and affordable healthcare is one of his. “A massive bill shouldn’t be part of healthcare.”
He said Saskatchewan is the only province to charge for transfers from one health facility to another, and is one of only two provinces which charges a per-kilometre fee.
The plan would cost approximately $18 million per year. Broten said they would find the money by eliminating Sask. Party waste such as money put into LEAN, what Broten has dubbed the “gravy plane“, and other entitlements.
“We need to redirect those dollars into the priorities of families, things like into better ambulance service, into better healthcare.”