The Reeve of Piney is pleased that the Manitoba Government has agreed to hold meetings in the municipality to clarify health coverage for residents. Wayne Anderson says a contract was renewed in August with hospitals in Roseau and Warroad, Minnesota to provide various services such as emergency care. This is a unique, long-term arrangement because those are the nearest hospitals for people in Piney. But he adds, as has happened with previous contract renewals, there is confusion over which services are covered by Manitoba Health and which ones will not be covered.
"They have said the hospital would know what's covered and what's not. If you go to the hospital for an emergency or something and they treat you, then you will not get a bill because they know what's covered and what's not, which seemed reasonable to me. But then, about a month or two later, people were going to the hospital and the hospital would say, we will get you to sign this waiver just in case Manitoba Health doesn't cover what you are here for."
He notes this issue has been very stressful residents, especially seniors, who don't want to get stuck with a big medical bill in the event their treatment is not covered. Anderson says at a meeting last week, Health Minister Cameron Friesen agreed to hold public meetings in Piney to clear up the confusion.
"He is aware of the problem now and he's going to get his staff to put together some community meetings where people can go and ask questions and wrap their minds around what is happening."
Anderson adds they seem to run into confusion like this every time the contract with those U.S. hospitals is renewed.
"We look at this Roseau hospital as kind of our community hospital. The only trouble is that it's on the other side of the line about a couple of miles. The province has saved billions of dollars by not building a hospital out here for many years and just paying for the few services that are needed at the local hospital across there. We went through this time a few times already. They see that people are using the hospital across the border and they think, oh no, we should stop that. But then once they check into it, they find they are saving money and they reinstate it. The Minister did say to us that we are in a very unique situation here."
Anderson says the RM will help the province set up the community meetings in the near future.