Cannabis clinics over-billing in Winnipeg are going against federal law warns expert

Published: June 26, 2018

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Winnipeg’s cannabis clinics may be breaking provincial and federal laws when charging patients for healthcare, as expert cautions.

That’s because extra charging is forbidden under Manitoba’s Health Services Insurance Act and the federal Canada Health Act. This means in the country’s publicly-insured health system, not extra billing is allowed from healthcare organizations.

Marijuana will be legalized for recreational use in October, and one expert believes some will try to bend the rules:

“With any new field you will always have some physicians that will try their luck at bending the rules of the system to see what happens,” University of Victoria professor of nursing Damien Contandriopoulos told CBC News.

Contandriopoulos helmed a three-year study into physician billing on behalf of the Quebec government. He cautions that over-billing patients may be breaking laws and could cause problems for patients.

“People who need to go often to the doctor, or people with low income, have a significant restriction in their access to the healthcare system. Overall this is unfair and it’s also counterproductive,” he said.

Cannabis clinics are a new breed of healthcare and Contandriopoulos’ prediction that some would try to get away with over-billing seems to be on point. In a report, CBC News names two clinics charging patients more than they should.

Delta 9 Lifestyle wants patients to pay $75 alongside a $25 annual membership fee before they can see a doctor. CannaConnect charges $249 per year.