VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Two private health clinics in Vancouver are accused of billing their patients for services that are publicly funded under BC’s health plan.

Cambie Surgeries Corporation and the Specialist Referral Clinic, which are owned by the same company, have been ordered to stop extra billing patients, or face court action.

An audit found more than 200 cases that add up to almost $500,000.

“I don’t thing we’re going to be recovering funds from the clinics on this at all” says Tom Vincent with the Medical Services Commission. “What we’d like is to stop the practice.”

“We have no authority to recover funds under the Medicare Protection Act.”

The Commission says it will seek a court injunction in the next 30 days if the clinics don’t stop extra billing patients.

There could be consequences for BC taxpayers if the clinics refuse to comply. Legal action regarding the audit is still before the courts and the province could lose federal money if the clinics continue to violate Health Canada regulations.

The provincial health minister BC will try to recover money from the two clinics if the feds cut funding.

“The Crown has already anticipated that risk” says Mike de Jong. “And to the extent that that risk were to be realized, included provisions in the litigation that would see any damage to BC taxpayers made whole from the private clinics themselves.”

BC NDP Health Critic Mike Farnworth says this wouldn’t be an issue if the provincial government had only enforced existing rules governing health care.

“It’s no surprise that the Cambie Street clinic has been found in violation” he says. “They in fact have bragged about the fact that they have been doing extra billing, and the government has been aware of it.”