Province backs off on changing the way doctors are paid

Leader staff

The Alberta government has taken a step back in its plan to change the way physicians are paid. Instead, it will form a committee to study the issue.

In the meantime, it’s business as usual for doctors, who are in the middle of an unprecedented health care crisis, along with other health care workers. Acknowledging this, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the following last week:

“During these unprecedented times, we want to ensure physicians on the front lines can focus solely on providing patient care. We’ve heard concerns that this change would result in what has been called ‘10-minute medicine.’ While we respectfully disagree with that characterization, we are nevertheless halting this change so that doctors can concentrate on the critical tasks at hand.”

Dr. Christine Molnar, president of the Alberta Medical Association, welcomed the news.

“We appreciate the removal of the complex (time) modifier from Alberta Health’s physician funding framework. This is a significant step in supporting patients and physicians. There is still work to be done. We will work in any venue to advance patient care and to reach a formal agreement between physicians and Alberta Health.”

The physician compensation advisory committee is meant to “examine all aspects of the physician services funding model and make recommendations….”

The province’s new plan for funding doctors had drawn quite a lot of criticism from some quarters, including from doctors themselves. The government was pushing ahead with it, but the COVID-19 crisis blowing up put things in a different light.

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