Ontario to charge $400 daily to discharged patients refusing to move to LTC

File photo courtesy of © CanStockPhoto.com/ VILevi

The provincial government will soon begin charging a daily fee to discharged patients who choose to stay in the hospital rather than move to long-term care.

Late last month, the Ontario government passed Bill 7, known as the More Beds, Better Care Act, aimed at addressing the health care crisis being reported within numerous hospitals across the province.

The bill allows for certain actions to be carried out if a patient occupying a bed in a public hospital is determined to require an alternate level of care by a doctor. This could include having a placement coordinator determine a patient’s eligibility for a long-term care (LTC) home, as well as selecting and authorizing their admission into an LTC home, even if it’s not their choice.

On Wednesday, the government shared new details about the implementation of the bill, set to begin on September 21. The province said the changes are designed to free up hospital beds, ease pressures in crowded emergency departments, and get through surgical back-logs.

This includes potentially moving patients to an LTC home away from their home community if their preferred home is not available. The distances could be as far as 150 kilometres away in northern Ontario communities and 70 km away in the southern part of the province.

“The distances are based on input we received from the sector and provide hospitals with the options needed for this policy to be effective. They also ensure the needs of a patient are met, including religious, cultural, language and spousal,” a joint release from Sylvia Jones and Paul Calandra, the ministers of health and long-term care, read.

The government added that patients who do not consent to move into an LTC home will face a daily charge of $400 starting November 20.

“This policy, developed using the best advice, will be implemented compassionately, always with an eye to providing the best possible and most appropriate care to all Ontarians,” the release read.

Ontario’s Official Opposition reacted to the news with a joint statement from NDP Health Care critic France Gélinas and long-term Care critic Wayne Gates.

“Removing frail elderly people from their loved ones and essential caregivers is horrifying, and will cause seniors’ health and well-being to go downhill fast,” the statement from the New Democrats read. “Imagine having to drive two hours to kiss your wife goodnight. Imagine the guilt of knowing you can’t afford to pay $400 a day to keep your dad in hospital, and having to put him in a for-profit long-term care home with a devastating record and disgusting living conditions.”

The NDP added that it believes forcing seniors to move will not ease the health care staffing crisis. The party said the Doug Ford government should address staffing within provincial hospitals first.