Sudbury

Optometrists ready to withdraw OHIP services Sept. 1

A Sault Ste. Marie optometrist says she and her colleagues are at the breaking point and want the Ontario government to do something about it.

Province covers 55% of costs for insured services

Optometrists in Ontario say they will withdraw OHIP-funded services beginning Sept. 1 unless a deal with the province can be reached. (Radio-Canada)

A Sault Ste. Marie optometrist says she and her colleagues are at breaking point and want the Ontario government to do something about it.

Krista Bruni said the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) has decided to withdraw OHIP-funded services starting Sept. 1.

They voted to do so in March, saying OHIP pays just slightly more than half the cost of providing them while their clinics absorb the shortfall. 

"Sept. 1 our patients will not be able to access our services if they are covered by OHIP," Bruni said. "We are not allowed to accept any private cash payment even if they are able to pay if they are OHIP covered patients."

Optometrists will still help patients who need emergency care, Bruni said.

"We will still be at our offices able to triage emergencies and find patients the care that they need. 

"This is really not something any optometrist in Ontario wants to do. It goes against why we became optometrists in the first place but we really have no other options."

3rd-party mediator involved

In a update, the Ministry of Health said it has proposed to engage a third-party expert mediator to assist the two sides in finding a resolution.

The OAO says it has agreed to that option.

According to a news release Aug. 9, the OAO proposed "a formal negotiations process that included a commitment that optometrists no longer be forced to subsidize the delivery of eye care to OHIP patients."

The offer was rejected by the province, the group said. 

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