I'm thinking this will get straightened out but the cost of this should make us all grateful for our system......

A Manitoba man is calling for the province to pay $118,000 in medical bills for an emergency heart procedure that he says he was forced to get in the U.S. as he waited for the province to airlift him to a Winnipeg hospital.

Robin Milne, 60, lives in Sprague, Man., a community tucked in the southeastern corner of the province and about four kilometres from the Canada-U.S. border. After experiencing chest pain on Oct. 2, he rushed to the closest hospital, across the border in Minnesota. It turned out he was having a heart attack.

"I was in so much pain, it was just awful," he said. "I got smacked really hard."

It's common for people in Sprague, and other Manitoba communities along the border, to cross over to get medical treatment in the U.S., and the province has a long-standing deal with Minnesota to cover the medical costs in emergency cases.

Milne said the doctor treating him at the hospital in Roseau, Minn. about 25 kilometres from Sprague told him he needed emergency treatment for his heart and tried to make arrangements to fly the patient back to Manitoba for it.

When 90 minutes passed with no information other than the promise an air ambulance was on its way, Milne says he was forced to make a decision to risk the wait or get the life-saving treatment in North Dakota. It was an easy one to make, he said.

"I want to live as long as I can so I can be part of my family's life," said Milne. "I have the best four little grandkids you'll ever meet ... That's what it's all about to me."

U.S.-based ValleyMed flew him to Grand Forks, N.D., a short time later, where he received a heart stent and spent two nights in hospital.

​Milne said he started to feel better almost instantly.

A bill for about $35,900 US from ValleyMed landed in his mailbox a few weeks later, as did a second bill for $47,000 US for the hospital costs in Grand Forks. Along with other bills, the total cost adds up to about $118,000 Cdn, says Milne.

About 850 Manitobans access emergency services through those Minnesota hospitals every year, according to the province.

The agreement doesn't apply to other hospitals or cover transportation to other sites, but Milne argues Manitoba should consider extending it to Grand Forks a city about 200 kilometres southwest of Sprague.

"I really do think it is incumbent on [the Manitoba government] to take care of it for us," said Milne.

Provincial health officials said they were unable to comment on the details of the case.

Manitoba man stuck with $118K in medical bills after emergency treatment in U.S. - Manitoba - CBC News