Doug Ford’s cut to OHIP will ground dialysis patients says NDP

Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, left, looks on as Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to media following his meeting with Quebec Premier Francois Legault , not shown, at Queens Park, in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

QUEEN’S PARK — Doug Ford’s elimination of out-of-country OHIP coverage will make travel for Ontarians with kidney failure unaffordable, said NDP Health critic France Gélinas who called for the reversal of the cut.

Gélinas held a press conference at Queen’s Park on Thursday with Allison Knudsen and John Landreville, who live with kidney failure and need dialysis.

“Doug Ford will ground people like Allison and John in Ontario by making travel too expensive for them,” said Gélinas. “Ford is cutting their only available insurance coverage for dialysis treatments: OHIP.”

Gélinas said Allison and John can’t get private travel insurance for dialysis treatments because insurance companies will not provide that coverage.  Private insurers consider kidney failure to be a pre-existing condition, which prevents them from qualifying for medical coverage.

“Ford expects Allison and John to pay for their dialysis treatments out of pocket when they have to leave the country for whatever reason — work, school, a family visit, or a vacation,” said Gélinas.  “He’s taking away their reimbursements for dialysis that can require multiple treatments a week, every week.  The current OHIP reimbursement of $210 per treatment means they don’t have to panic when a cross-border work trip or family reunion comes up.”

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Doug Ford is sworn in as premier of Ontario during a ceremony at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Friday, June 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Ford’s elimination of OHIP for out-of-country travellers takes effect on Oct. 1, 2019 and dialysis patients will have to pay 100 per cent out of pocket for their treatments outside Canada.

“It has been my dream to become a professor,” said Landreville, a Ph.D. student enrolled at Wayne State University in Detroit. “But to succeed, I need to travel and, while I travel, it is imperative that I receive dialysis treatments.  Without the ability to receive dialysis while I travel, my ability to finish my dissertation and move forward on the job market is gravely jeopardized.

“Do not choose to make it harder for people already struggling to do their jobs, to see their families, to simply go about their lives.”

Knudsen says the Ford government’s cut to OHIP reimbursements for dialysis patients will leave her paying the full cost of treatments.

“I have family that live in the United States. When I visit, my dialysis treatment costs hundreds of dollars a session. My family has been helping me pay these huge medical bills, but sometimes I skip dialysis due to cost and I shorten trips,” said Knudsen.

“The government’s reimbursements aren’t enough to pay my bills, but it’s the only coverage I have.  People on hemodialysis like me cannot get private insurance coverage for our life-sustaining treatments.”

“People like Allison and John deserve the same opportunities as all Ontarians,” said Gélinas. “People who need to travel for work or for family have had the rug pulled out from under them. The NDP will continue to work for this cut to be reversed.”