By Letter to the Editor on April 15, 2020.
It’s important Albertans understand how the UCP is attacking our physicians and patients.
The government is not bargaining in good faith. Bill 21 allows the government to rip up any contract, at any time. The government can remove any negotiated contract at any time and allows the UCP to dictate when and where a physician works in the province.
The health minister recommends some procedures not be covered, so you may have to pay out of pocket for hernia surgery, tubal ligation or other procedures. Health Minister Tyler Shandro delisted good-faith claims, senior drivers’ medicals, some radiology imaging tests and comprehensive care plans, so less care for Albertans, and more out-of-pocket costs.
By removing complex modifiers and stipends and capping daily services, doctors will no longer be paid for certain services, so will no longer offer them. Rural docs took a more than 30-per-cent cut in on call payments.
Physician renumeration pays for the lease on their clinics, equipment, supplies and staffing. The minister removed or reduced certain hospital billing codes, so now if that doc does certain hospital visits, they will not be paid for it.
The Babylon app introduced by the UCP has major privacy flaws. The docs involved are not your family physicians, but contracted docs who may not even be in Alberta, who are being paid more per call than your family doc is. Government promotion of this private service hurts our local physicians.
Other changes caused medical liability insurance coverage to increase by tens of thousands of dollars. One example is liability insurance for delivering babies will increase $48,000. This disproportionately impacts rural Alberta, as more doctors will refuse to care for women in labour, and they will be transported to an urban centre.
The rural physician recruitment program has disappeared.
Despite UCP claims, Alberta docs only make about five per cent more than docs in other provinces. The AMA has refuted this, and their figures are validated by outside auditors.
Docs are leaving, graduate docs aren’t staying, and for the first time, Alberta has over 20 residency positions open. Docs do not want to come to Alberta to work.
Our government is dismantling our healthcare system, and it will negatively impact your care, wallet and community. I encourage everyone to read everything you can on these changes. Visit the AMA webpage, talk to your doctor, and speak out!