LONDON — NDP MPP for London North Centre, Terence Kernaghan, hosted a press conference Friday at the Central Branch of the London Public Library, to address how the Ford government's elimination of out-of-country OHIP coverage will hurt Ontarians with kidney failure.
Kernaghan was joined by constituents Bonnie Field and Emma Klotz, who described the impact of Ford’s cut to their out-of-country OHIP coverage when they need to travel over the border.
“For Ontarians like Bonnie and Emma, who live with kidney failure, having access to out-of-country OHIP reimbursements for dialysis treatment is essential to their ability to leave the country, ever, for whatever reason — work, school, a family visit, or a vacation,” Kernaghan said. “Many people with kidney failure require dialysis treatment multiple times 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.
“But, starting Oct. 1, when Ford’s elimination of OHIP for out-of-country travellers takes effect, dialysis patients will have to pay 100 per cent out of pocket for their treatments outside Canada.”
Private insurers consider kidney failure to be a pre-existing condition that prevents an individual from qualifying for medical coverage. It is impossible for Bonnie and Emma to purchase private travel insurance to cover dialysis treatments when they go outside the country.
“I had been hoping to go to Florida for a trip with my sons,” Klotz, a single mother and a hemodialysis patient at University Hospital, said. “All I want is a normal vacation for me and my boys. The cut to OHIP coverage means I will have to pay the entire treatment amount by myself, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do that. I’m not a rich woman. I am asking the Ford government to seriously consider the impact this policy change will have on people like me; people who, despite their chronic illness, try to have a small taste of normalcy.”
Field said her family also attempts to maintain a sense of normal life, despite her disease. “This includes taking a one-week holiday, usually somewhere in the U.S.,” she said. “There is considerable anxiety doing dialysis away from home, with unfamiliar staff and routines, but we feel it is important family time. This past winter, one week's treatment cost us over $1,300. OHIP covered $600 of that cost, which made the treatments somewhat affordable. We are unable to get any insurance company to cover these dialysis treatments, as no private insurance company will cover the cost of dialysis.”
“This cut to out-of-country OHIP is one of many ways the Ford Conservatives are punching holes in Ontario’s health care system,” Kernaghan said. “People like Emma and Bonnie deserve a government that ensures they have the same opportunities as all Ontarians. The NDP will continue to fight for this cut to be reversed.”