Surgery for removal of excess skin not covered: minister

James McLeod
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Health Minister Susan Sullivan addresses members of the media Tuesday. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Health Minister Susan Sullivan said Tuesday the province’s regulations on surgery to reduce excess skin are in line with the rest of the country.

Sullivan was responding to criticism that MCP does not cover “cosmetic” surgery to remove excess skin for people who have undergone radical weight loss.

However, Sullivan said she’s open to changing her mind in the future.

“The policy that we have in place right now is being applied consistently across the board,” she said.

“I would like to have a broader discussion with my colleagues, when we have (an) opportunity, and I propose to be able to do that in the very near future. We’ll sit down and have a discussion about the policy itself.”

Her comments didn’t do much to impress NDP Leader Lorraine Michael, who talked about one case in particular, of a person who suffers repeated infections due to his excess skin.

“His doctor, who’s been his doctor for years, has indicated that he has recurring infections,” Michael said. “Isn’t having recurring infections adequate for saying that it’s medically required?”

She added that it shouldn’t matter if other provinces don’t cover the surgery.

“Let’s be leaders in the field on this one. Let’s move ahead and show what a real humane policy would be.”

Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons also took a shot at Sullivan.

“We are at a loss to understand as to where the minister of health and community Services is coming from,” he said.

“We have spoken to the gentleman, Mr. Kevin Carter, who told us that he was referred to a surgeon and that surgeon has recommended that he receive the surgery. The problem is that surgery is not available in the province.

“The question now is will this government provide the resources to ensure that Mr. Carter receives the surgery he requires outside of this province.”

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Recent comments

  • RagItaria
    November 26, 2013 - 01:03

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  • Juliet
    October 09, 2012 - 18:17

    I have a neighbor who had to get cosmetic surgery to remove extra skin. She felt so much better after, but she wishes they would have covered it.

  • Charles
    January 19, 2012 - 07:01

    As she said, That she is not a Doctor, So why are we paying someone who can't answer a question YES OR NO, This should tell you why , Our health system is failing,

  • Margie
    January 18, 2012 - 20:14

    Rusty, Lee and Wanda both said IF Chris is correct.

  • mainlander
    January 18, 2012 - 20:03

    I read Mayor Ford in Toronto is trying to lose a lot of weight. I know it's a different province with different rules, but I am willing to bet his surgery gets covered.

  • Ruby
    January 18, 2012 - 14:45

    I think this person have been living in the States too long. If he had the financial means to pay for it in the states, why didn,t he. I guess he just wanted to con us like alot of the people from the states did years ago and sometimes still do. I think he should pay for it himself. The minister should stick to her word

  • Rusty
    January 18, 2012 - 14:30

    @ Chris, Lee & Wanda....Kevin did not live in the states during his weight loss. He lost the weight while a member of TOPS NL 0969 Botwood. Check your facts before posting.

  • Kelly
    January 18, 2012 - 14:02

    Another story on this man. Whats Left out of this story is that the excess skin is over his belly button and thats where the infections are happening. He says in the star report he is a cashier and cannot afford the surgery, but also states he has a lot of people supporting him. Next thing we will see money cans in convenience stores for him.

  • John Smith
    January 18, 2012 - 14:00

    You idiots.This is not the guy who lived in the "States" and moved back here to have surgery.That's a completely different guy! Do some research before spouting off. Govt: Pay for this poor guy's surgery.So much money is wasted treating dopeheads and for welfare people, but this guy is trying to get ahead and all you do is close doors on him. You disgust me.

  • apples
    January 18, 2012 - 13:59

    There's no way for her to save face now... Pay for the mans surgery.

  • skipper
    January 18, 2012 - 13:20

    Bitch all you want you voted for the Blunderdale govt. for the next four years now live with it.

  • Mindy
    January 18, 2012 - 13:17

    There are many points made on this story.. First - all people are not over waight cause they have lots of time and money to sit on their rears and do nohting but eat. Lucky for those who do not gain and it is a life time battle for those that do. Yes, you can get infections from excess skin over lapping in areas, this can be very painful. I know I have the problem from too many past surgeries.. The gentleman lost wieght for the better of his health so that the problems that exist in our health care for people over wieght will not be his problem--now he has another. What about all the ladies who have their breasts reduce for medical reasons--rash/backs etc. that is covered under MCP., is that not the removal of excess skin and fat?? No I do not agree with the gov't paying for all the surgery but there should be some assistance. There is a difference in the surgery in concern and cosmetic surgery.

  • Wanda
    January 18, 2012 - 12:54

    Maybe Mr. Carter should pay for his own surgery, if what Chris said is correct.

  • California Pete from NFLD
    January 18, 2012 - 12:44

    I am glad to be on the US Medicare program than on MCP

  • Graham
    January 18, 2012 - 12:18

    Im all for starting a petiton to have this useless heartless Minister Susan Sullivan REMOVED from her position. I am truly ashamed to be a Newfoundlander today thanks to this government. We pride ourselves in helping others and righty so but here this pathetic excuse of a government cant see fit to help one of our own. Hang your head in shame Premier Dunderdale. This is your government and your Minister of Health.

  • McLovin
    January 18, 2012 - 12:17

    Sounds like a good debate for the House of Assembly.....if it were open. Good thing there's no work to be done.

  • Graham
    January 18, 2012 - 12:11

    Health Minister Sullivan is obviously in way over her head and trys her best to talk around any direct questions she is asked. God help us if this is what we are to expect from this lady.

  • Edward F. Hiscock
    January 18, 2012 - 12:06

    No, his surgery should definately not be paid by taxpayers.If his past way of living caused him to gain all that weight. If he could offord to lie around and eat all that grub, he can offord to pay for the surgery himself.

    • C
      January 19, 2012 - 03:37

      Good point - So I guess you're ok with smokers having to pay for their own medical treatment if it involves the lungs at all. They could afford to pay for cigarettes so they can pay for their medical bills too. Or a bad driver? He can't drive and gets into an accident - he can pay for his own bills too.

  • glenn
    January 18, 2012 - 11:47

    the presence of excess skin does not translate in to recurring infections. If that's the case then millions of people who have lost weight and have resultant excess skins would be in the same boat. recurrent cellulitis is the problem, and thus, surgery to correct this is a matter of infection control and eradication, not cosmetic. If the patient simply wants to have skin removed, then, yes, it is cosmetic surgery. It would fall under the same category as any other cosmetic surgery, and should not be covered my mcp as the choice is a personal decision, just like the decision to lose weight, not a covered medical condition. Its time for people to realise, just because you want it, does not mean you should get it if you can't afford it. Covering skin reduction surgery as a reward for losing weight, is not the same as needing skin reduction surgery for recurrent infection that can jeopardise health

  • Barbara
    January 18, 2012 - 11:38

    There are two sides to this situation. On one hand, this gentleman created his own problem by living a lifestyle which caused the obesity which resulted in his excess skin problem. On the other hand, he is trying to change his lifestyle, which is fantastic. I believe that each and every one of us has an obligation to be proactive about our own health. If we choose to live an unhealthy life and have problems that result from that....why should taxpayers have to foot the bill to correct this? Sadly, that is the situation this man is in. I believe he should have to pay for this surgery himself as he himself caused the problem he now faces. Sad..but true.

  • joan
    January 18, 2012 - 11:33

    Sullivan says she has to ask the cabinet about this issue-Dunderdale will probably say ,he shouldn't have got fat in the first place..What a sad province nl has become

    January 18, 2012 - 11:20

    I know Kevin well and he has struggled for years with his weight . Many times unsucessful But he found the way that was good for him and now he has to suffer even more. I hear people say he chose to eat. well people choose to do drugs and smoke we have cancer treatments and millions in surgerys we have hundreds of people being looked after because of dementia from drug or alchol abuse Do we say forget them as well. I am dealing with a potientally fatal medical problem that, like Kevin requires pannus surgery. It is required that i try several other types of treatment while the infection stays in my body waiting to surface once again and make me very sick or even worst the best of luck Kevin

  • Carl
    January 18, 2012 - 11:11

    Let's fund more medically necessary procedures like this one -- as well as vision care and dental care, both of which are medically necessary. In order to pay for these necessary forms of health care, we should stop funding some of the optional procedures that are currently paid for -- like abortions. Pro-abortion activists declare abortion to be a woman's CHOICE, so it should not be funded (except in cases where a doctor deems it medically necessary).

  • Lee
    January 18, 2012 - 11:05


    • robroy
      January 18, 2012 - 17:58

      Kevin is NOT the gemtleman who was away

  • Margie
    January 18, 2012 - 10:58

    Kate Bastow, you do have a point in that we put on the weight ourselves; however, please have a little sensitivity. You are probably one of the lucky people who can eat whatever you desire and not put on an ounce. There are also others who have an eating disorder or addiction, or cannot exercise due to arthritis or some other illness. We don't know a person's personal circumstances. Premier Dunderdale lost weight but did not have to lose as much as Mr. Carter, so obviously doesn't have his dilemma. However, if she did, and couldn't afford it, wouldn't you want MCP's help? Mr. Carter is going to have a lifetime of infections, rashes, etc., if this surgery is not done, and MCP will have to pay for his numerous doctor visits for such complicantions. Pls. give him a break.

  • Chris
    January 18, 2012 - 10:33

    Hey now hold on a second. Was this not the guy who lived in the states during his weight loss, and stated that he had the financial means to pay for the surgery himself, but he choose to move back home and live in NL so he could get it for free?

    • McLovin
      January 18, 2012 - 12:15

      So what if he lived in the States and lost all his weight there? The man is still a resident of Canada and entitled to Universal Health Care just as you and I are.

  • Harry Stone
    January 18, 2012 - 10:16

    First let me say I don't usually respond to news items. But here goes. I sent this letter to minister Sullivan: I can't believe the callous response to this mans' problem. You are a bunch of hypocrites and you call yourselves leaders. You are setting a disgusting example of leadership in this province. What are you trying to achieve. Make the man suffer! Do the right thing and fund the surgery. Your response to this situation disgusts me. You should be embarrassed and ashamed of the position that the government is taking. What do you think you are winning here? To make the man suffer! What do you suggest? Let him put on weight and then let the system fund his many medical problems. Is that the smart choice? One has to wonder what your agenda is. I can only assume that you are either stupid and uncaring or just plain incompetent. Shame on you. Harry Stone

  • CBwatchdog
    January 18, 2012 - 10:12

    If we are going to use what the rest of the country is doing as our benchmark then why dont we have full day kindegarten. You really need to come up with better or more creative excuses than that one!

  • Targus
    January 18, 2012 - 10:07

    I' m not to impressed with Minister Sullivan on this one. Either she is the Minister of health or not. since when is the staff calling the shots. Now she has to consult her cabinet buddies. If she can't handle the major decisions of her dept, she should step aside and let someone with guts to make a decision that's right for a patient and not to keep her "staff" happy. The man needs the surgery and that should be the end of it !!!!

  • Ruby
    January 18, 2012 - 09:54

    this is terrible. Our Health Minister should correct this error asap. Removal of excess skin in the cases we've seen documented are obviously health related -not matters of vanity or cosmetic in nature. I can hardly imagine the courage and determination it takes to remove the weight in the first place. I hope some common sense and courage will motivate those in authority to make the changes necessary to help Mr. Carter and the others in similiar situations.

  • Brian Morris
    January 18, 2012 - 09:46

    This is absolutely Ridiculous. This govt spends Millions on promoting Healthy Living, physical activity and other lifestyle changes. This man takes the initiative to try to get healthy and we can't help him with this surgery. Its asinine. Why is it when Gov't implements rules and Policies, they cannot put in some leeway to allow for the odd issue that does not exactly fit the "Policy" . Common sense must be allowed to play a role. It drives me crazy when someone is mistreated or left out because the beauracrats have no Leeway to implement common sense solutions to common sense problems. Hiding behind stupid policies is not the answer. For gods sake, there has to be $15,000 worth of waste in the Conferedation building alone, that could be found to pay for this surgery. Come on Dunderdale, show us your common sense side.

  • Peggy
    January 18, 2012 - 09:17

    This is unbelievable that such surgery is considered "cosmetic". Most cosmetic surgeries are for vanity reasons. Mr. Carter took care of his health by losing weight and these are the consequences he has to live with the rest of his life. What a sin ! This is absolutely maddening when, for one instance alone, you just look at all the exorbitant abuse of taxpayers' money by Government officials, both Federal and Provincial, over the past decade. Mr. Carter, I really think financial help will come to you somehow. I would make a donation,

  • Nancy
    January 18, 2012 - 09:13

    So, lets get this stright - we are trying to promote a healthy lifestyle by losing excess weight and eating better and exercising. However, we are punishing those who are successful in their attempts. This is certainly an out of the ordinary situation and I believe that the individual has a right to live a healthy lifestyle no different than the rest of us. If this were a person working at Eastern Health, or an MHA, there is no doubt in my mind they would change the rules so that they could have the procedure completed. This is disgusting.

  • Kate Bastow
    January 18, 2012 - 09:12

    There are many medically recommended procedures that are not covered by MCP. My grandmother suffered repeated eye infections due to her lids turning. Her doctor recommended a surgery to fix it, but because it was considered "cosmetic" MCP wouldn't cover it. I understand this. Anyone who wanted an eye lift could get their doctor to say "infection" and have the procedure done for free. The system can support only so much. The line has to be drawn somewhere. Further, given the likelihood of gaining back the weight (as many do) it makes even less sense for MCP to make excess skin removal one of their covered procedures. Good for you for losing the weight, but you put it there in the first place - pay for it out of your own pocket.

    • I agree
      January 18, 2012 - 15:09

      I aggree 110 % ...

  • Nathan Alder
    January 18, 2012 - 09:00

    If Mr. Carter had not taken the initiative to lose the weight I'm sure that the resultant health issues would easily dwarfed what he faces now. Our province has the highest percentage of overweight people. We should congratulated Mr Carter and provide him the health care that he needs. Ultimately he is saving the province money.

  • John
    January 18, 2012 - 08:47

    By losing the amount of weight that he has, I cant help but wonder how much he has saved MCP. By denying this necessary surgey, how many people will say that rather than try to loose the weight and not be able to get the necessary surgery. These people should be commended for losing the weight which obviosly didn't happen overnight. This should prove to government that they have the necessary dedication to keep the weight down. I would be against paying if the patient wanted to get the surgery a second time; it should be at their expense.

  • Harvey
    January 18, 2012 - 08:47

    Mr. Carter is surely commended by all sensible minded people for what he has done to improve his health. The removal of the burden that he is facing, and has faced for months, should be immediate; yet Minister Sullivan says that she would like to consult further with her colleagues,before any change might occur...simply not necessary. She also says that the gov'ts policy is in line with that across the country. Well, that doesn't necessarily make it right. Forget the national policy and be a leader in such cases. Don't let Mr. Carter suffer any compassion!!!!

  • Jeremiah
    January 18, 2012 - 08:43

    This is absouletly ridiculous. The surgery should have been done months ago!

  • AMAC
    January 18, 2012 - 07:48

    I'm amazed that MCP are not covering the cost of Mr. Carter's surgery. Even if it requires travel to another province, I can't understand why MCP wouldn't cover it, it seems outrages to me. The guy must be constantly irriated by the excess skin, I bet he gets rashes and infections regularly from it. My heart goes out to him.

    • Judith C. Price
      January 18, 2012 - 08:32

      If anyone works so hard at losing weight to improve his/her health, I cannot understand the rationale of not covering this surgery. My guess is that Eastern Health would rather have those persons remain patients for years, taking up precious time at doctor's offices and at hospitals instead of supporting a great achievement in personal health. Best of luck, Mr. Carter and anyone else who requires this surgery.