Health Minister Must Overturn Ruling That put Heart Attack Patient on Hook for $118,000 Bill

Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen should overturn a ruling by his department that dismissed a heart attack patient’s request for help with his $118,000 medical bill from a U.S. hospital, NDP health critic Matt Wiebe said today.

“Through no fault of his own, Robin Milne was handed a huge medical bill after being sent from his home in Sprague to the U.S., where doctors saved his life,” Wiebe said. “The Pallister government should pay that bill and ensure that no other Manitobans face the same traumatic shock when fighting for their lives.”

Mr. Milne suffered a heart attack in his home in Sprague on Oct. 2, 2016. As per standard practice in this area, he was taken by ambulance to a health clinic in Roseau, Minnesota. A doctor there tried to arrange transportation to St. Boniface hospital in Winnipeg, where doctors were on standby to operate.

When no transportation could be arranged within a safe timeframe and because of his serious condition, the Minnesota doctor transferred Milne to Grand Forks, N.D, where doctors saved his life.

Manitoba has a reciprocal arrangement with Minnesota that covered Milne’s medical bills in that state, but there is no such arrangement with North Dakota. When Milne requested help from the Manitoba government for help in paying his bill, he was turned down.

Milne was told by the government that he had “elected” to receive medical treatment out of country; that it was up to him to negotiate payment directly with U.S. hospitals; and that Manitobans living in his area should “obtain private health insurance.”

“All Manitobans will see this treatment of Mr. Milne as unacceptable,” Wiebe said. “We urge the Pallister government to pay Mr. Milne’s bill immediately and ensure rural Manitobans get timely access to health care. No patient should have to worry about paying such a huge bill when their life is on the line.”