Federal Health Minister Jane Philpot has expressed concern over an amendment to Saskatchewan’s MRI Facilities Licencing Act.
It is the recent introduction of the Patient Choice Medical Imaging Act which allows for private payment for CT scans.
In a letter dated November 2, 2016 to Saskatchewan’s Minister of Health Jim Reiter, Philpot says Saskatchewan’s method of pay-for-MRIs “runs counter to the fundamental principle of the Canada Health Act.”
Philpot says those needing an MRI should be based on medical need, not on the ability or willingness to pay.
The Federal Health minister calls Saskatchewan’s one-for-one model “unique” but voices concern wealthier patients may be able to jump the queue.
Over 2,000 private MRIs have been performed since Saskatchewan introduced a private-pay system earlier this year, according to provincial numbers.
Facilities conducting these scans are required to provide a second scan for free to someone on the public wait list.
In a response to the minister’s letter, Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter says the “innovative legislation” has led to more than 22-hundred MRIs provided at no cost to the taxpayer.
Reiter says in the last three months, those waiting for an MRI has dropped by at least 700 patients, adding over 11-hundred additional patients have been taken off the public wait-list.
Reiter says Saskatchewan intends to continue to provide MRIs in such a fashion, saying the government will proclaim expanded legislation in the coming months, that expands the provision of “2-for-1” diagnostics to CT services.