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Feds reclaim $1M due to private patient charges; Sask. Ministry of Health ‘deeply disappointed’

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The province of Saskatchewan has expressed “deep disappointment” over the federal government’s decision to withdraw transfer payments related to medical imaging fee support in Saskatchewan.

The federal government has deducted $1 million from the province’s medical imaging fee support transfer funding due to patients being charged out-of-pocket fees for diagnostic imaging services at private clinics, under the Canada Health Act.

According to Health Canada, the Canada Health Act and deductions from Health transfers to provinces are mandatory to ensure that patients are not charged out-of-pocket for medically necessary health services.

Saskatchewan introduced private-pay MRI and CT services in 2016, where private service providers conduct fee-for-service scans, and they are required to provide the second scan free of charge for those on the public waitlist. Despite this approach, the federal government deemed this system incompatible with the Canada Health Act, leading to the deduction.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health defends its approach, citing benefits for patients and the public system. The federal government emphasizes the importance of upholding the Canada Health Act to ensure equitable access to essential healthcare services without financial barriers for residents.

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