Tribunal Says Ontario Health Insurance Plan Shouldn’t Pay for Ottawa-area Woman’s CCSVI Treatment

An Eastern Ontario woman’s bid to make the Ontario Health Insurance Plan pay for her CCSVI treatment has been rejected at a tribunal.

Doctor with a banknote and pills in their hand

Judy Butcher is 48 and from Jasper, Ont., near Merrickville. She had balloon angioplasty, or CCSVI treatment, to open her blocked neck veins on March 5, 2011.

Judy was diagnosed with MS in 1996 and before her treatment the condition had progressed so far that she was confined to a wheelchair and often experienced excruciating pain.

After going through with CCSVI treatment,  pioneered by Italian vascular surgeon Paolo Zamboni,  Judy’s pain reduced and her circulation improved. She can now walk with the help of a cane and has even regained her driver’s licence.

Yet when she applied for reimbursement, her claim was rejected by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) as CCSVI treatment is still considered experimental and unproven in Canada, despite the many patients who have seen huge improvements to their MS symptoms.

Butcher appealed OHIP’s decision at the Health Services Appeal and Review Board, which heard her case in February 2012. She waited until April 23rd to receive the board’s 18-page decision.

The board said evidence “strongly suggests that the treatment is generally accepted in Ontario as experimental. Ontario experts in general are of the view that based on the research the treatment is not yet proven and requires more investigation.”

It concluded that the CCSVI treatment performed on Judy “is not prescribed as an insured service of OHIP.” The board had already rejected two other appeals from MS patients who went through with the CCSVI procedure.

When interviewed Judy said she was disappointed by the decision, although not surprised.

“I was kind of expecting it. They’re bound and determined to not recognize this procedure,” she said. “Obviously they knew that if this case was decided in my favour, it would set a precedent.”

Read more on this story at Tribunal Says Ontario Health Insurance Plan Shouldn’t Pay for Ottawa-area Woman’s CCSVI Treatment Part 2.

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