Cape Breton-Richmond MLA questions consistency of MSI coverage

HALIFAX: The MLA for Cape Breton-Richmond wants to know why some patients have to pay for visits to an oral surgeon when others don’t.

On March 5, Progressive Conservative MLA Alana Paon told the Nova Scotia Legislature she was recently contacted by an oral surgery cancer patient who paid $300 for a visit to the oral surgeon in Sydney.

Paon said oral surgeons with offices outside of hospital settings do not have visits covered by MSI. There is one oral surgeon in Cape Breton who has hospital privileges but not a hospital office, she said, noting that this means patients in Cape Breton pay per visit to the oral surgeon. However in Halifax, that same visit is covered by MSI, the MLA noted.

Paon asked Minister of Health and Wellness Randy Delorey if he agrees it is unfair to have Cape Bretoners pay for services that are otherwise covered in other areas of the province.

“Nova Scotians expect a basic uniform standard of health care in this province,” Paon told the house. “We’re certainly not getting it.”

Delorey, who is also Antigonish MLA, explained that the rules and parameters around MSI coverage are “largely governed” by the Canada Health Act.

“I’m sure the member appreciates the fact that we continue to adhere to the Canada Health Act,” Delorey responded.

Noting that many of her constituents who are ill are under stress because they are on limited or fixed incomes, Paon asked what steps Delorey will take to ensure patients in Cape Breton receive the same MSI benefits as mainland patients.

“Private health insurance is not an option, nor should it have to be, as our provincially-funded medical services insurance should not be picking winners and losers,” she told the house. “Here we have a situation where the inability to pay often means an inability to receive care. It’s shameful and it’s inequitable.”

Delorey responded that MSI services and policies are applied the same for all Nova Scotians, regardless of where they reside.

“I assure the member and all Nova Scotians that the MSI coverage that is available is equitably applied for the services as covered by MSI,” he added.