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Edmonton man needs assessment to continue receiving coverage for medical supplies

Edmonton man needs assessment to continue receiving coverage for medical supplies
Edmonton man needs assessment to continue receiving coverage for medical supplies

“Our waiting list is about four to six months. It’s ridiculous.”

Philip Raworth lost his bladder to cancer. He has been using urostomy bags for over ten years. It is something that has always been covered by Alberta Health Services.

But despite his lifelong condition, he received a letter stating that he needed a medical assessment to continue receiving coverage for his medical supplies.

“That’s a bit ridiculous because if you have a chronic condition, it’s not going to get better. So it’s an unnecessary burden on the people who use the service,” he explained.

But it could take up to six months before he gets help and he says he has to pay for his urostomy himself in the meantime.

“You make about $400 a month,” Raworth said.

A statement from Alberta Health said they are working as quickly as possible to ensure these assessments are completed in a timely manner. They said they:

  • Be helpful when there are new, better products for the patient;
  • And it can reveal changes in a client’s medical needs.

Staff shortages in community independent living aids also contribute in part to the delays.

“What makes it worse is that they don’t have the staff to actually run this review program, so you get a situation, my situation, my situation, for example, where in September my authorization expires. I have to be re-evaluated, in case I’ve grown a bladder. And then what happens is, that’s fine. I think it’s unnecessary, but okay. Well, of course, between the time that authorization expires and the time that they finally re-evaluate you and you apply for a new authorization, you have to pay the full amount.”

While Raworth is grateful to be in a position to pay these additional costs, he knows this is not the reality for everyone and wants to use his voice to draw attention to the issue.

“In my case, to be honest, it’s not that bad because I make a reasonable amount of money, but for other people who don’t, it can be up to $400-$450 a month. And that’s a lot of money for someone who’s trying, who knows what situation they’re in,” he explained.

“$400 a month for people who are already struggling to get by, it’s a lot of money and it’s not needed because the reassessment is pointless because you only get this if you’re assessed for a chronic disease or condition. And that means chronic is not going to get better.”

Late Monday afternoon, after CityNews contacted AHS, Raworth said his assessment had been canceled and his coverage for medical supplies continues.