Is OHIP really cutting off medical care to those over the age of 75?
Published Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:10PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:15PM EDT
The CTV News email inbox has been getting lots of letters of late from viewers asking about an email that’s being passed around that says the Ontario government plans to cut off all emergency medical care to Ontario residents over the age of 75.
Please, allow me to assure you the email is 100 per cent bogus.
No one is going to be denied medical aid -- either in Ontario or anywhere in Canada -- just because they reached the age of 75.
Nevertheless, it seems that many of those who have gotten the email have gotten quite worried.
I spoke with the Ontario Ministry of Health and they say they have received around 65 emails and calls from the public asking whether the email is right.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s what the email looks like:
PLEASE READ AND SHARE WITH EVERYONE!
So much for caring for the people who worked hard for this country!!!
“In a conversation about the future, Dr. Suzanne Allen, head of emergency services at the Wilson Medical Centre in Toronto, was asked if she has seen any effects of the upgraded health care in her work.
“Oh, yes. We are seeing cutbacks throughout the services we provide. For example, we are now having to deal with patients who would normally receive dialysis (but) can no longer be accepted. In the past, there was always automatic approval under OHIP for anyone who needed dialysis – not anymore.”
So, what will be their outcome? “They will die soon without dialysis,” she stated.
What about other services? “She indicated as of 2013, no one over 75 will be given major medical procedures unless approved by locally administered ethics panels. These panels will determine whether a patient receives medical treatment or not ...
“We do not know the specifics of the actual implementation of the full Steven Harper care policies and procedures. They haven’t filtered down to the local level yet. But we are already seeing severe cuts in what we provide to the elderly – we refused dialysis to an individual who was 78 just the other day ... we refused to give stents to a gentleman who was in his late 80s.”
The province’s health ministry says the email is “absolutely false.”
“It is unacceptable to frighten patients with patently false information,” a spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews told me in an email.
“Ontarians can rest assured - and the Minister has been clear on this point - that our government will continue to do what's best for patients, and especially our seniors. Our government is committed to improving health care and since 2003, we are delivering better care closer to home. None of these changes relate to an individual’s age.”
What’s interesting about this bogus email is that it’s actually an American hoax that’s been going around for months before getting “Ontario-ized.” The original post seems to have been created in reaction to the hysteria over the U.S. health care reform bill dubbed “Obamacare.”
Here’s a link to Snopes.com, the Internet hoax debunking website, and their undressing of a similar email being shared in the U.S.
Someone must have thought to tweak the letter for Ontarians, replacing “Obama” with (the badly-misspelled) “Steven Harper” and using “OHIP” instead of “Medicare.”
In the original email, “Dr. Suzanne Allen” works for the “Johnson City Medical Center”; in the Ontario version, she works for the Wilson Medical Centre. While there is actually a Wilson Centre in Toronto, it doesn’t treat patients.
(When I called, they were aghast that their name was being used in this hoax email. They also were quick to assure us there is no “Dr. Suzanne Allen” working there.)
There is a Dr. Allen, though, at the Johnson City Medical Center. It seems the email was drafted many months ago by someone who was a guest at her home and who had an axe to grind. Here’s the whole behind-the-scenes drama on that.
It’s actually rather disheartening that there are so many who are wondering whether this email might actually be true, that a government would cut off care for people, simply because they reached the age of 75. Perhaps, with constant talk about the need for cuts to health care, there are some who believe it’s possible that seniors would be pushed aside.
Why this email is out there is a mystery; there’s no call to send in money or take action against any political figures. It could be just someone’s idea of fun.
But here’s an old, slightly altered, adage to remember when receiving mass-forwarded emails: If something sounds too strange to be true, it usually is.