Hospitals threatened to not see troops after military cut reimbursement rates

Hospitals threatened to not see troops after military cut reimbursement rates

OTTAWA — Senior defence officials were warned that a fight with provinces and hospitals over soldiers’ medical costs could mean “negative exposure” weeks before it erupted on the federal campaign trail.

The warning is in a briefing note obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information law.

The Canadian Armed Forces imposed new limits on how much it would reimburse provincial hospitals for treating service members in May 2019 after two audits suggested hospitals were charging far more to treat military personnel than non-military residents.

According to the briefing note, many hospitals were caught completely by surprise, with some threatening to reject military patients and others warning the change threatened their financial viability.

The briefing note also suggests that the measure would not save the $24 million annually that officials had expected, and in some cases could even cost more if hospitals began to charge the military the same rates as for out-of-province patients.

The restriction on reimbursements was rolled back in October after it made headlines during the federal election campaign, putting the Liberals on the defensive, though negotiations on a new scheme are continuing among the federal government, provinces and hospitals. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 11, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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