Minister Speaks on First Available Bed Issues and Practice of Charging Patients

Today, the efforts of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly paid off with a clear statement in the Legislature from the Minister of Health and Long Term Care on the practice of some hospitals to threaten to charge patients with exorbitant charges if they reviewed to take the first available bed in ANY long term care home.

Health Minister Deb Matthews told the Legislature that:

it is completely unacceptable that anyone be charged more than the co-pay rate—that’s $53.23—if they are in a hospital waiting for long-term care. It is completely unacceptable.
Judith Wahl, Executive Director of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, commented on the significance of the Minister's comments:
This should end the practice of hospitals threatening patients waiting in hospital for admission to long term care to be charged more than the co-pay as set out in the Health Insurance Act which is a maximum of $53.23. There is also a rate reduction available for people that do not have the income to make this payment. In the past, many hospitals have threatened people with charges ranging everywhere from $350 to over $1800 per day if they refused to take the first available bed in ANY long term care home that came available or if they refused to select long term care homes with short waiting lists even if the patient / their [substitute decision maker] did not believe that a particular home with a short waiting list was an appropriate choice or met their long term needs.
The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly has been advocating for clients, and the seniors community, on this issue for the last 12 years. There are materials on the ACE website that explain the law on this issue which includes
  • the requirement for consent for admission to long term care,
  • that consent must be voluntary and cannot be coerced by the hospital with threats of a high per diem at the hospital if the patient refuses to take the first available bed in any long term care home or a retirement home not of their choice,
  • the max rates that can be charged in hospital as set out in the Health Insurance Act
We do encourage people that no longer need acute care to actively look for and consider all possible options for long term care and for care in their own homes, rather than in hospital, in an effort to get out of hospital into other accommodation that meets their ongoing needs. However patients should not be threatened with inappropriate high per diems in an effort to have them go to places that are not appropriate to their needs.
We commend the Minister of Health and Long Term Care for making this statement in the Legislature today. We look forward to the changes in hospital policies to reflect the appropriate charges.
Here is the Hansard Excerpt:
Ms. Andrea Horwath: The question is for the Premier. The McGuinty government’s broken promise to redevelop Windsor’s Grace Hospital site into a long-term-care home has forced the LHIN to declare a hospital bed shortage crisis in that ...
L083-1100-22 follows
(Ms. Andrea Horwath)
... the Premier. The McGuinty government’s broken promise to redevelop Windsor’s Grace hospital site into a long-term-care home has forced the LHIN to declare a hospital bed shortage crisis in that community. Now seniors are threatened with $600-a-day hospital bills if they refuse the first open bed in any nursing home. Why are seniors being punished for this government’s health care failures?
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Hon. Deborah Matthews: Thank you for the question. I want to start by saying that it is completely unacceptable that anyone be charged more than the co-pay rate—that’s $53.23—if they are in a hospital waiting for long-term care. It is completely unacceptable.
I want you to know that my ministry and my officials are working with the LHIN, with the hospitals, to ensure that they understand the proper application of this policy and that other hospitals, in fact, across the province do understand that it is completely unacceptable to charge anything more than $53.23 per day.
I do want to talk about long-term care in the Windsor area. We know that long-term care is very important. We are making investments. There is a new long-term care that is opening as we speak. There are now over 100 residents and more coming every day. There is another long-term—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Families want to be sure that their loved ones have the best possible care in the province. But not only are the services lacking; these families are being punished. In Windsor it’s officially a crisis but the story is playing out across the province of Ontario. An elderly patient in Toronto is being threatened with daily fees of $1,800 to get out of the hospital.
Families are desperately trying to access the care they need but they’re finding a system in complete shambles. Instead of helping families, the government slaps them with exorbitant fees. Why are families being punished for this government’s failures?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: Let me repeat that it is completely inappropriate and unacceptable for any individual in this province in a hospital waiting for long-term care to be charged more than $53.23 per day, so I think the member opposite owes it to the people of this province to actually speak the facts in this House.
Having said that, we do acknowledge that there are challenges in our health sector but we are making tremendous progress. We are committed to reducing our ALC rates in our hospitals by building stronger, better community supports. We now have almost 200,000 more people receiving home care supports than when we took office.
We are moving forward. We are making progress. Is it perfect? No. But, boy, is it a whole lot better? Absolutely yes.