In vitro fertilization dropped from RAMQ in new Quebec health bill
In vitro fertilization will no longer be covered by the public health insurance plan, if a bill tabled by Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette at the National Assembly on Friday passes.
Bill 20 — or, An Act to enact the Act to promote access to family medicine and specialized medicine services and to amend various legislative provisions relating to assisted procreation — proposes to cut public health insurance (RAMQ) coverage for IVF treatments.
It also limits the number of embryos a woman can be implanted with to one at a time, except for women aged 37 or older, who would be able to be implanted with two embryos.
The bill also seeks to ban IVF for women under 18 or over 42 years of age.
Under the proposed bill, the only assisted reproductive measure that would be covered by RAMQ is artificial insemination.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Barrette expanded on the proposed bill.
He said some exceptions could be made for women who have tried other therapies but had failed to conceive. However, women who had had a tubal ligation, men who had had vasectomies or a parent or parents who already had one child would not benefit from this exemption.
He also said women seeking IVF could also benefit from a variable tax credit.
He said doctors who advised their patients to seek IVF treatments outside of the province would be subject to hefty fines.
IVF program a victim of its own success
The new bill is Barrette’s response to an IVF program that has been so successful that it overran its budget.
In his previous job as head of the Quebec’s Federation of Medical Specialists, Barrette criticized the program.
He called it an "open bar" and said it was not an essential service.
Quebec was the first province in Canada to fully fund IVF treatments.
The new legislation would also force family doctors and specialists to accept a minimum number of patients, and spells out steeper fines for doctors who do not operate within the guidelines set out in the bill.