WINNIPEG – Robin Milne fought for his life after suffering a heart attack at his Manitoba home in October but now is in a financial battle after getting a $118,000 bill for his emergency care in the United States.
After reviewing his file, Global News has learned the province has told the Milne family they will not cover the costs.
“(We were told) that Manitoba Health would not be paying our bill,” Robin Milne said. “It’s unacceptable.”
Milne had a heart attack while working on his home in Sprague, a small town near the U.S. border in southeastern Manitoba.
WATCH: Manitoba man stuck with huge hospital bill after massive heart attack at home. Brittany Greenslade reports.
He was rushed from his home to the nearest hospital in Roseau, Minn., part of a long-standing, but little-known agreement with the province called the Altru Agreement.
When doctors were unable to get any information from the province on an urgent medical flight to Winnipeg, the decision was made to send him to Grand Forks, N.D., for life-saving surgery. He found out afterwards the $118,000 bill would not be covered by Manitoba Health.
After a Global News investigation, the health minister said he would look into Milne’s case and also called for a complete review of the 20-year-old agreement.
“I have specifically asked for the information on the Milne case to see what is happening on the U.S. side to get a clear understanding,” Goertzen told Global News on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Milne was told that review is now complete and the province told him again, it will not cover the costs.
“It’s very frustrating. Probably the lowest day I’ve had,” Milne said. “Health care is part of our benefits.”
In an email from the province sent Wednesday, it said the Health Minister “does not have the authority to make payments where such payment is not authorized in the legislation.”
“The department can confirm Mr. Milne was contacted by telephone today (Wednesday), as requested by the Minister. To ensure Mr. Milne’s privacy is respected, the department is not prepared to elaborate with respect to the details of that conversation. As indicated by the minister last week, the department has been directed to undertake a review of the agreement,” the email stated.
The province said they are willing to negotiate with the Grand Forks hospital on Milne’s behalf in an attempt to get the bill reduced. But the family is not giving up.
“I really feel like we deserve to be covered for this,” Milne said. “I am prepared to continue on.”
The family is now stuck in a financial battle. Milne’s wife has taken a second job and the family is looking at remortgaging their home.
Meantime, a GoFundMe page has been set up by his sister in the hopes of being able to pay off some bills while the family keeps fighting for the province to cover their bill.
The province said a framework for the Altru Agreement review is currently being developed and it’s anticipated to begin shortly.
(image from Global News)