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News Release

Medical Reform Group of Ontario
News Release

April 4, 1984 - Toronto

The Medical Reform Group of Ontario is on record as supporting the Canada Health Act. We now feel compelled to comment on the significant revisions to the Act and to respond to the extraordinary campaign being mounted against the Act in recent weeks.

The major problems threatening medicare have been extra-billing and hospital user fees, and provincial health insurance premiums. These are serious problems because those in the greatest need of care -- the elderly, the poor, the unemployed -- are most affected by these financial barriers. Worst of all, essential care has been delayed for many Canadians because of their perception that they must pay cash to be entitled to health care services.

We believe that the Canada Health Act as amended will remedy many of these problems. First and foremost, the Canada Health Act under clause 10 will guarantee all Canadian residents coverage for health care services whether or not premiums have been paid. This clause will put an end to premiums as a barrier to care. For doctors -- they will be glad to know that they can bill provincial insurance plans for all Canadian residents. For patients -- they will be glad to know that they are insured in those provinces that charge premiums whether they have paid these premiums or not.

The provisions in the Act addressing the other major problem of extra-billing may be inadequate. Wealthy provinces can afford to pay the penalties as set out under clause 20.

We hope that the Ontario government will adhere to the spirit and intent of the Canada Health Act by banning extra-billing and officially ending the premium system of payment for health care coverage.

Several provinces, notably Ontario, are under tremendous pressure from a powerful, affluent and unscrupulous opposition as evidenced by the sad and shameful events of the last few weeks. The National Citizens' Coalition has mounted a misleading and irresponsible campaign against the Act. In particular the elderly, those with chronic illness and those with acute symptoms have been intimidated by home delivery of pamphlets and newspaper advertisements suggesting that their access to care will be blocked by the Act -- a frightening and false claim.

Most tragic of all is that the Ontario Medical Association, the official voice of the medical profession of Ontario, has formally aligned itself with the National Citizens' Coalition campaign of fear.

We call on all doctors who reject the National Citizens' Coalition campaign to dissociate themselves from the OMA's endorsement of this organization. We do not ask that doctors necessarily take our position. We do ask that they re-assure their patients that care will not be denied when the Act is passed.

Medical Reform Group of Ontario contacts:
Dr. Philip Berger Toronto
Dr. Debby Copes Toronto
Dr. Gordon Guyatt Hamilton
Dr. John Frank Toronto

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