Monday, December 11, 2006


Even with a brain tumour, it's "wait your turn" in Canada -- even if the wait could kill you. The only thing Canada is quick with is promises

Timely Medical Alternatives Inc., a leading Canadian medical broker, today announced that it intends to launch a lawsuit against the Ontario Provincial government on behalf of a 66-year-old Newmarket resident, Lindsay McCreith. Seeking damages as well as reimbursement for medical, travel and rehabilitation costs, the decision to launch a lawsuit comes after the Provincial government refused to pay the costs for private magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and subsequent surgery to remove a cancerous tumour in Mr. McCreith's brain at a Buffalo hospital on March 6, 2006. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan informed Mr. McCreith that since he didn't get pre-approval for his out-of-country procedure, they would not reimburse him for the services he received. The "catch 22 "is that the pre-approval process routinely takes significantly longer than the four and half weeks between Mr. McCreith's initial MRI and his life saving surgery.

McCreith, a retired small business owner, is seeking a larger role for private health care in Canada: "I had hoped that the Government would carefully consider my case. I didn't feel I had an option to wait for my medical treatment, given the possibility the tumour was malignant, and had to pay out of pocket to have my brain surgery. The health system has let me down and I don't want to see other individuals go through the pain and anguish I have suffered," said McCreith.

Timely Medical Alternatives, which will lead fundraising efforts for the court challenge, said that Canadians are still not receiving timely health care despite record levels of health spending and numerous commitments made by provincial and federal governments. Richard Baker, President of Timely Medical Alternatives, said: "This case is not about creating a second tier of health care. Instead, it's about the provincial government's refusal to provide timely medical treatment for Mr. McCreith, as well as the restrictions on private insurance. In Mr. McCreith's case, it really was a life or death situation."

In the opinion of Dr. Gary Magee, Mr. McCreith's family physician of 35 years, Mr. McCreith could not afford to wait to receive treatment: "Brain surgery needed to be expedited. Lindsay might not have made it if he had to wait the likely eight months it would have taken him to have a MRI, see a specialist and have surgery."

Timely Medical Alternatives is asking Ontario patients who have been adversely affected by waiting for medically necessary services as well as by restrictions on private insurance and have had to pay for their own medical treatment to contact the Company as soon as possible to be considered as part of the lawsuit.

Like the landmark Chaoulli case in 2005 when Montreal patient George Zeliotis and physician Jacques Chaoulli won a Supreme Court of Canada battle for the right to buy private medical insurance, Timely Medical Alternatives' lawsuit will argue that the provincial government's actions violate the Canadian Charter of Rights.

News of the Timely Medical Alternatives lawsuit could ignite a political debate over long waiting times for medically necessary services, a debate which would be welcomed by Ontario patients as a call to action for the government.

Mrs. Mariana Rosero, a 56 year old Ontario patient whose debilitating back pain grew so severe she could no longer walk as she waited to see a specialist, finally chose to have immediate surgery in Buffalo, again with the help of Timely Medical Alternatives. She hopes the lawsuit will generate changes: "This is a David versus Goliath struggle. If filing a lawsuit on behalf of Mr. McCreith is what it takes to get the government's attention and make timely medical treatment a priority, then I fully support it and hope the government does something to fix the system."

Timely Medical Alternative President, Richard Baker, added: "The Canada Health Act is arguably responsible for more misery, suffering and even death, than any other domestic legislation in Canadian history. It's time that Canadians no longer be asked to sacrifice their health in the name of supporting this Act."

Backgrounder: Lindsay McCreith's Medical History

- In January 2006, Mr. McCreith suffered his first seizure. The Newmarket Hospital diagnoses his seizure as epileptic and prescribes anti-seizure drugs. Mr. McCreith has a MRI scheduled for May 27, 2006.

- During the month of January 2006, Mr. McCreith continues to suffer from headaches and seizures on an almost daily basis. Mr. McCreith decides to seek a second opinion.

- On February 2, 2006, Mr. McCreith contacts Timely Medical Alternatives and the next day has an MRI in Buffalo and is diagnosed with a brain tumour.

- On February 13, 2006, Mr. McCreith returns to Buffalo for a specialist consultation.

- On March 6, 2006, Mr. McCreith returns again to Buffalo for a scheduled biopsy, during which time doctors decide immediately to perform surgery and remove tumour.

- On March 14, the pathology report concludes that Mr. McCreith's tumour was malignant.

- On May 23, 2006, OHIP rejects Mr. McCreith's application for refund of medical costs of $27,600 ($US) that he paid out of pocket to the Buffalo hospital.

- In November 2006, Mr. McCreith is cancer-free and agrees to begin process of filing lawsuit against Ontario provincial government.

Source. A video interview with the people involved is here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

Comments? Email me here. If there are no recent posts here, the mirror site may be more up to date. My Home Pages are here or here or here.


No comments: