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'Mistakes happen': Health minister says patients have recourse if charged inappropriately

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The provincial government is advising there is recourse for those who believe they've been wrongfully billed for healthcare services.

Speaking in Muncey on Thursday, Ontario Health Minister and Deputy Premier Sylvia Jones addressed the issue for those patients who think they have been unlawfully billed for OHIP-covered services at a private health clinic.

“We do the investigation within the Ministry of Health,” explained Jones. “Ultimately, if the patient is right and there was an inappropriate charge, they will receive that charge back.”

The response came in the wake of claims the provincial government opened the door for private clinics to profit from extra fees when it expanded certain procedures to the for-profit health sector last year.

“Mistakes happen,” said Jones. “People have a right to follow-up and make sure that they weren’t inappropriately charged. I will say we have the statistics to show it is a very, very small percentage of people who were inappropriately charged."

The minister made the comments at the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) in Muncey, where she also re-announced funding to expand primary health care teams throughout the region.

The government says it’s investing nearly $6.4 million to connect more than 23,000 people to primary care health teams in the London area, Lambton, and Chatham-Kent.

According to a Ministry of Health news release, the initiatives includes:

  • New mobile services for an Indigenous Primary Health Care Organization that will support First Nations, Inuit and Metis community members in Middlesex County.
  • A new mobile bus to connect Indigenous people in rural and urban areas of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex with Indigenous led, culturally relevant primary care services in person and virtually.
  • A new Family Health Team for London and the surrounding area, that will expand services through additional Community Hub locations throughout the area. By meeting people where they are, and reducing other barriers, this program will help connect people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness with primary care providers that are trauma and violence informed.
  • An expanded Family Health Team in Elgin County that will partner with another Family Health Team and Community Health Centre to increase the number of people who can connect to team-based primary care services.
  • A new rural site along with expanded capacity at an urban clinic in Lambton County, focused on connecting isolated seniors, socioeconomically disadvantaged and vulnerable people, newcomers, and refugees to primary care.
  • New mobile primary care services in Chatham-Kent, including clinics for respiratory and diabetes management, cancer screening and traditional healers to help provide culturally appropriate care.
  • Primary care service expansion in Tillsonburg to connect vulnerable and medically complex community members to comprehensive, convenient and connected primary care closer to home.

“Within our traditional healing program, our focus extends beyond just treatment,” said Marissa Kennedy, the traditional healing manager of SOAHAC. “It encompasses a comprehensive understanding of healing as a spiritual journey."

Christi-Ann Poulette, the integrated care manager at SOAHAC, stressed the need for primary care is great.

"SOAHAC’s ability to enhance our holistic, culturally aware, safe care is vital for the well-being of the individuals we support,” said Poulette.

Jones also spent time Thursday campaigning with Steve Pinsonneault, the PC candidate for the upcoming by-election in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

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