It is yet another item that the province of Saskatchewan and Ottawa can’t seem to find agreement on – this time the clash is over two-for-one diagnostic imaging, or MRIs.
Earlier in 2016, the Saskatchewan government introduced The MRI Licensing Facilities Act. It allowed private clinics to provide a scan for a patient paying privately, so long as it provide a second scan for free to a patient on the public wait list.
In a letter dated Nov. 2, 2016, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott writes, “This runs counter to the fundamental principle of the Canada Health Act, that access to care should be based on medical need, and not on the ability, or willingness, to pay.”
Philpott goes on to argue that such a two-for-one model “allows wealthier patients to jump the queue, both for initial diagnostic services, and for any follow-up care that may be required within the public system.”
It did not take long for the province to fire back.
In response on Nov. 28, 2016, Health Minister Jim Reiter wrote that the federal government was seeking innovation in healthcare, which is exactly what this legislation does.
“This innovative legislation has led to more than 2,200 MRI scans, all of which have been provided at no cost to the taxpayer,” Reiter wrote, adding that more than 1,100 patients have been taken off the wait list as a result.
The Saskatchewan government has already introduced similar legislation for CT scans.
It isn’t clear where this disagreement will lead.
Four other provinces in Canada have similar two-for-one models.