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“I’m told that I could be waiting up to a year for an MRI, and I think that’s why the other two doctors told me I could pay for an MRI,” Steffen told reporters outside her Regina home on Wednesday.

“The issue with that is I have three areas of my spine that need imaging, which would cost me $3,000.”

The provincial government introduced private-pay MRI services to Saskatchewan in 2016,making it possible for anyone to have an MRI scan done more quickly if they can afford it. The province also mandated facilities that perform a private MRI to provide a second scan at no charge to someone on the public waiting list.

Saskatchewan’s official opposition leader Ryan Meili and NDP health critic Vicki Mowat joined Steffen outside her home on Wednesday. Meili promised that, should his party form government after the October election, he would bring in the Saskatchewan Medicare Protection Act. This act would eliminate user-pay MRIs and other private diagnostic services that Meili said people “should be covered for” and would ban double billing and extra charges for insured services. He also committed to lowering diagnostic and surgery waitlists.

“As a family doctor, one of the things I was most proud of was that when patients came to see me I got to ask them how they were feeling, not how they were paying, and it’s very distressing to see us go down a different road here in Saskatchewan,” Meili said.

“We’ll be investing in diagnostic imaging and surgery with increasing staffing so we’re actually able to do the work (and) make full use of the facilities that are already here.”

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