Changes to Interim Federal Health plan places communities at risk — AMMI

Changes to the Interim Federal Health plan for refugees may result in higher costs and place communities at risk says the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada (AMMI).

In a June 18 letter signed by AMMI President Dr. A. Mark Joffe, the association says they “strongly disagree” that the changes will protect public safety.

The Federal program provides a bridge to refugees who may not yet be eligible for provincial health plan coverage.

Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism announced cuts to the program in April, removing supplemental coverage such as dentistry, drugs, vision care and mobility assistive devices.

While Kenney says these are not benefits other Canadians receive, AMMI disagrees, stating the Minister “ignores the existence of supplemental plans, programs, and/or services provided in many provinces to low-income earners and senior citizens.”

“Further denying this vulnerable population access to health care and medications risks their own personal health and safety as well as that of the communities in which they reside,” states Joffe.

“We would respectfully point out that crucial to the control of infectious disease is early diagnosis and treatment. Under the proposed changes, it is not only conceivable but highly probable, that individuals with conditions of serious public health concern, such as tuberculosis and HIV infection, will not seek care early in the course of their illness. They may indeed delay seeking medical attention until their condition has progressed significantly, leading to avoidable transmission to many susceptible individuals.”

AMMI is but the latest health care association to denounce Kenney’s plan, set to take effect on June 30.

Kenney claims it will save an average of $20 million a year. The program cost the Federal government $84.6 million in 2010-12.

AMMI Canada represents infectious disease physicians and clinical and medical microbiologists.

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