TORONTO, Aug. 9, 2021 /CNW/
The Ontario government has once again refused to fund OHIP-insured eye care at least to the cost of delivery, even though 100,000 patients have sent letters asking them to do so.
“The outpouring of support from patients is the reason why we have been working around the clock to try and save publicly funded eye care for children and seniors”, says Dr. Sheldon Salaba, President of the Ontario Association of Optometrists. “We are disappointed that it took this level of public pressure for the government to finally reach out”.
After eight months, the Ministry of Health agreed to meet with the OAO. On August 5th, the OAO proposed a formal negotiations process that included a commitment that optometrists no longer be forced to subsidize the delivery of eye care to OHIP patients. This principle of cost recovery was immediately rejected by the Ministry. After one meeting, the Ministry declared an impasse.
Despite all this, optometrists continue to have their patients’ best interests and the sustainability of the publicly funded optometry system at heart. For this reason, the OAO is willing to immediately begin intensive mediation with a third party mediator in an effort to achieve an agreement with the Ministry.
“We want to provide Ontarians with the high-quality eye care that they deserve”, added Dr. Salaba. “We’re just looking for fairness from the government.”
The OAO remains committed to the principle that any agreement must ensure that, at a minimum, the compensation that an optometrist receives for providing insured services covers the overhead and operating costs of those services. Until the government commits to this principle, the September 1st deadline for service withdrawal remains in place.
“The fact is there has been hardly any change to OHIP fees for eye exams in over 30 years”, noted Dr. Salaba. “We are not willingly leaving OHIP – the government is pushing us out.”