Contract talks failed because MDs ‘did not want to...
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Jan 16, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Contract talks failed because MDs ‘did not want to be held accountable’: government

The OMA rejected a clawback provision to let the province recoup funds if doctors spent more than they we allotted, a government source says


Contract talks between the province and the Ontario Medical Association fell apart because the organization representing doctors refused not to overspend beyond a fixed budget, a government source close to the negotiations said.

“The OMA did not want to be held accountable to a budget,” he said.

The government wanted to include a clawback provision if doctors went over budget, the source said.

After doctors officially threw in the towel on the talks on Thursday, the government imposed that very scheme on them.

Doctors spent $200 million more than they were allotted in their 2012 contract and the government didn’t want to see that happen again, the source said.

“I would say where the deal fell apart was the concept of reconciliation. At the end of the day, if all of our good work doesn’t realize the economic results that we planned on, we still need to find a way to bring those savings out,” the source said.

It’s difficult for the province to keep a lid on physician spending because most doctors are essentially independent contractors, who bill the Ontario Health Insurance Plan for the patients they see. They can always see more patients and bill for more.

The imposed payment scheme sets a hard limit on how doctors will be paid in each of the next three years. They will get $11.4 billion this year with increases of 1.25 per cent in each of the two years.

The annual increases are intended to meet a rise in demand from a growing and aging population and the addition of 700 new doctors.

Factored in to how much doctors will get paid are $580 million in cuts. This includes a 2.65 per cent across-the-board reduction in physician payments, including fee-for-service payments.

This discount will rise if doctors go overbudget. OMA president Dr. Ved Tandan called the annual allotments “arbitrary” and said they are driven by the province’s budget pressures rather than the health-care needs of Ontarians.

He said annual increases of 2.7 per cent are needed to meet growing demands.

Tandan said the spending ceilings will limit how many patients doctors can see and how many medical procedures they can provide.

“They (government) said they are going to pay up to a certain level of services and then after that they will penalize physicians,” he said, warning that patients will end up waiting longer to see doctors, get tests done and have surgery.

On CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, Health Minister Eric Hoskins said it was “reckless” of the OMA to “scaremonger” about wait times and access.

Toronto Star

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