'Less collaborative...more dictatorial': Alberta doctors seething after physician pay changes
CALGARY -- Some doctors in the province are furious with the provincial government after a different compensation framework was introduced on Thursday.
A new physician pay structure was brought in by the provincial government after it was unable to reach an agreement with the Alberta Medical Association.
The structure freezes physician funding at $5.4 billion and introduces some major changes to the way that money is handed out.
The new rules will impact every physician in the province, but Dr. Scott Beach is convinced family physicians will feel the most pain.
“What will happen is family physicians who are in the medical home will have to run faster to stand still in order to maintain the integrity of the income stream that allows the overhead to be addressed,” he said. “The entire transitional plan is one that’s going to put a great risk to patient care.”
Dr. Beach, who is the Calgary Zone representative of the Medical Staff Association, called the new structure “less collaborative and more dictatorial.”
He believes the way it was imposed on doctors was unfair.
“The D yesterday was not for democracy, it was for dictatorship.”
Dr. Beach is not alone.
Many physicians online say they’re upset with the handling of the framework — and some, like Beach, are convinced the changes may achieve the opposite of the desired effect.
Many believe the changes will lead to doctors seeing fewer patients in a day, which could result in less time to care and diagnose complex issues before they become a larger problem.
“(This) will challenge care in the ER,” Dr. Beach said. “It will require admissions that are more expensive and last longer.”
Alberta health minister Tyler Shandro told CTV News he doesn’t believe that will happen.
Instead, he called the changes a way to get better results for what taxpayers are sinking in to health care.
Specifically, Shandro said a physician payment known as a complex modifier was being overused.
“We do have indications that the complex modifier would be used for some patients who weren’t complex,” Shandro said, pointing to provincial numbers that say more than half of all patients are receiving that designation from doctors.
Even with the changes, Shandro said, “Physicians in Alberta are still going to be among the highest paid in the country.”
Beach said he believes after the changes are implemented April 1, many doctors could be looking to other provinces for jobs.
”I’m concerned about a generation of physicians not joining us,”he said.