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March 4, 2003

Coalition Casts Doubt on Clements MRI Numbers

Calls them Unbelievable

 

Kingston The Kingston Health Coalition charged that the governments publicly released figures on the cost of scans at the for-profit MRI clinics are nonsensical.  The clinics, according to a brief prepared by the Ontario Health Coalition, cannot hold up to the Ministers claims of faster, better, cheaper, safer care.  The coalition called for the Minister to immediately cease his reckless race to privatize as much as possible before the election. 

 

The governments recent announcements on the funding of MRIs in Ontario make no sense, charged Ross Sutherland, a coalition spokesperson and emergency room nurse. A few months ago in the Estimates Committee, the Health Ministry was forced to admit that its figures on investment in MRIs are misleading. Yet the Minister continues to put them out. Now Tony Clement is compounding the first set of misinformation with claims that for-profit MRIs are cheaper.  After calculating out the numbers every way possible, we have to conclude that Mr. Clements claim is simply not believable.

 

GOVERNMENT CLAIM:  The Ministry has repeatedly claimed that it has increased hospital MRI hours by 90% with a $28 million investment in the last year. 

  

REALITY: In the Estimates Committee meeting this fall, the Ministry did not know how many scans or hours had been increased because budget increases for MRIs were being used to cover scans already being performed but funded from other sources due to budget shortfalls.  The funding may not have increased scans at all.

 

GOVERNMENT CLAIM: The Ministry claims that the new for-profit MRIs will be 36% cheaper than the same services in hospitals.

 

REALITY :The bottom line is that the governments figures are so far from possible realities as to be unbelievable. What we do know is, last year, each Ontario hospitals provided approx. 10,000 MRI scans for $1.2 million government funding.  Based on the figures in the government RFP, it is reasonable to conclude that in one year, the for-profit clinics will likely provide 2,600 publicly-funded scans for  $700,000.

 

The other reality is that the clinics will not be providing the same services as hospitals. The proposals sought from private companies allow for cheaper equipment with less features and software, incapable of doing the complex cases found in hospitals. The for-profit clinics will provide easier scans, leaving heavy care and risky patients to the public system.

 

Ontarians should beware, concluded Mr. Sutherland. This could be another Conservative government privatization in which the public ends up paying more for less.  The bottom line is that the citizens of Kingston will receive less MRI scans than if the money had been spent wisely within the public system.

 

For more information:          Ross Sutherland 613-374-5211