HEALTH MINISTER URGES ONTARIO OPTOMETRISTS TO ''COMMIT TO REACHING AN AGREEMENT TODAY''

Sep 01, 2021

By Bob Komsic

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As optometrists across Ontario withdraw OHIP-insured eye services as of today, the Ford government says it’ll keep funding those services and that ”any decision to withdraw services” is up to individual optometrists.
The provincial health plan covers annual eye exams for anyone 19 and younger, 65 and older or those with specific health conditions.
After a breakdown in talks with the government over reimbursement of costs, the Ontario Association of Optometrists says member eye doctors would start calling affected patients today to cancel appointments and place them on waiting lists.
The OAO says patients should still contact optometrists with emergencies for help reaching a family doctor or another health care provider.
The government’s offered to pay optometrists $39-million to retroactively cover increased costs of services.
It’s also offered to increase reimbursements by 8.48%, Association President Dr. Sheldon Salaba says they want an increase of 70% to close the gap.
He points out optometrists currently pay for around 45% of services.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province is ”extremely disappointed” in the decision to withdraw services.
”To do so as Ontario faces the fourth wave … is unconscionable,” said Elliott in a statement.
She added the government is awaiting a ”change of heart” from them, while pointing out the association refused to continue mediation on the weekend.
”Our government’s offer is an extremely fair and reasonable one, and I urge the OAO to stop withholding care from patients and commit to reach an agreement today,” the health minister said.
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