The primary plaintiff in the Charter Challenge against BC’s Medicare Protection Act, President and CEO of Cambie Surgeries Corporation Brian Day, took the witness stand this week as his lawyers continue to present their case aimed at removing the prohibitions on extra billing and private insurance.
Almost the entire three days of Day’s testimony centred on his cross-examination by the lawyers for the defendants, the Province of BC.
Much of the cross examination by the Province focused on the financial accounts and audit of Cambie, concluding on the third day in aiming to demonstrate that Cambie Surgeries Corporation has been engaged in extra-billing. Extra-billing is when physicians receive fees over and above the payment they receive from the Medical Services Plan (MSP).
And, after three days of testimony observers are more than perplexed about what really takes place at Cambie Surgeries, due to the many contradictory statements by Brian Day.
Day said on the first day of his testimony that Cambie Surgeries must pay doctors more than the MSP in order to get them to work at the clinic. On the second day, he said he had no idea what doctors are paid for insured services at his clinic because they are paid only by the province for those procedures. Day’s affidavit demonstrates that doctors are paid regularly from an account called “paediatric consultation”. Under questioning, Day maintained that there are no records, no documentation and no contractual agreement with doctors that would itemize what the payments are based on and that the financial relationship between the surgical clinic and its doctors is one of “trust”.
The province pointed out the rarity of such business practises, “suggesting,” said the provincial lawyer, that Day was “less than open” and what was going on at Cambie was not “legitimate” and “fraudulent.”
Day also made some questionable statements about the provincial audit of Cambie Surgeries. On the witness stand he said he was “very cooperative” and invited provincial auditors in “voluntarily’. However, it was pointed out to him that he filed an injunction to stop the audit and the province produced a statement from the auditors that stated they were refused access to source documents to complete their audit.
After 118 days at trial, there is still much evidence to introduce and many arguments still to be made. While Brian Day never admitted to fraudulent billing practises, it is clear that his clinics’ operations are veiled behind a curtain of secrecy. And, we know that he wants the freedom double bill with public and private insurance and patient fees all paying the bills.
As public health care advocates and intervenors in the case, we continue to watch this case closely as it unfolds with evidence supporting the importance of a universal, single payer health care system, so that people get the health care they need regardless of their income and ability to pay.