Updated: Mar 4
New fees for elderly drivers who need a medical exam and proposed limits on "good faith" treatment for uninsured patients have been delayed as the government and Alberta doctors continue to negotiate proposed changes to how they're paid.
New fees for elderly drivers who need a medical exam and a proposal not to pay doctors who see uninsured patients have been delayed as the government and Alberta doctors continue to negotiate proposed pay changes.
A tussle between the government and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA), which represents about 11,000 active doctors, has spilled into the public, as signs appear at medical clinics asking patients to sign petitions to the health minister and MLAs.
“We need your help,” read one poster at a southeast Edmonton medical clinic last month. “The government is proposing major changes and cuts in what services we are able to provide you. They are also going to reduce what we are paid for existing services.
“We will need to see more patients in a day and charge you for more services such as seniors’ driver exams.”
AMA president Dr. Christine Molnar said doctors are turning to the public for support in hopes politicians will listen to constituents.
“They’re concerned, and they want people to know it,” Molnar said. “They want people to understand, these things aren’t OK.”
Nearly 2,000 doctors have contacted her to say how the proposed changes could hamper the viability of their practices and their ability to care for patients, she said. Some have said they plan to retire early instead of adapting.
The proposals would incentivize “turnstile medicine,” where doctors would be paid more to spend less time with patients, she said. It could lead to worse management of chronic conditions, and rising health-care costs as more patients end up in emergency rooms and hospitals, she said.