Nova Scotia

Proposed changes to MSI released

The Nova Scotia government released a discussion paper and proposed legislation Friday aimed at reinforcing access to medical care in the province.

Opposition questions aim of proposed changes

The Nova Scotia government released a discussion paper and proposed legislation Friday outlining changes to access to medical care in the province.

Under the revamped Medical Services Insurance legislation, reimbursements for services outside of what MSI already covers would be eliminated, and extra billing and user fees would also be prohibited.

As a result, physicians who deliver treatments covered by MSI, such as knee replacements or cataract surgery, cannot charge patients more than what MSI provides.

The changes also include setting up an appeals board for patients who have been denied coverage because they are non-residents or have received care out of province.  

New wording says all consultations and materials would have to be included in the cost and no extra fees would be allowed to be added.

The stated purpose of the Insured Health Services Act is to guarantee access to medical care based solely on need, not whether someone can pay.

"Nova Scotians want us to protect the public-funded health care system that we have. I think we have a mass buy-in by, not only Nova Scotians who use the system, but the health-care providers who provide that service, especially the physicians in the province," Health and Wellness Minister Dave Wilson told CBC News.

Doctors Nova Scotia said they were consulted prior to the document's online release.

But Progressive Conservative health critic Chris d'Entremont questions the government's intent regarding the proposed changes.

"I don't like the idea of putting the release out on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend," d'Entremont said, "Is this the time people are going to be listening or not, or, is this something they want to roll under the rug and hope that no one is really listening?"

Nova Scotians have been invited to email their comments to the health department and have until August 17 to tell the government what they think.

Private clinics that deliver cosmetic surgery and services not insured by MSI will not be affected by this legislation.