November 28, 2014 6:32 pm
Updated: November 28, 2014 9:02 pm

Quebec to impose patient quotas, cut fertility treatment program


QUEBEC CITY — The Liberals are cutting the province’s in vitro fertilization program, after the Health Commissioner called it “an open bar.”

Last June, Robert Salois said two per cent of children born in Quebec were conceived through fertility treatments.

The program has helped thousands of families, but costs have nearly doubled since its creation four years ago.

It cost $70 million in 2013-2014. Now, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said access must be limited.

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“We have to implement some restrictions in the program because we saw too many things happening in the wrong direction,” he told reporters on Friday.

What’s this new bill all about?

Assisted reproduction is currently free and accessible to every Quebec woman with medicare.

Bill 20 proposes that in vitro fertilization be denied to women under 18 and over 42, and that same-sex couples undergo psycho-social evaluations.

Only artificial insemination would continue to be covered by medicare; all other procedures would have to be paid by the patient upfront, and tax credits would be offered.

The second, and perhaps most surprising, part of Bill 20 is the government’s willingness to impose patient quotas, with strict penalties for doctors who don’t see enough patients.

“We should normally see an increase of availability or access to primary care in 2015,” Barrette said.

Bill 20 contends that “if a physician fails to fulfil these obligations, the physician’s remuneration will be reduced by the Régie de l’assurance maladie by as much as 30 per cent.”

What’s the problem with it?

Critics said that they believe doctors will take on more patients, but it will come at a cost: quantity will mean a loss of quality.

“Incentives, disincentives… this is not the way physicians want to work,” said the Parti Quebecois’ Diane Lamarre.

While Barrette insisted drastic measures must be taken to whip the healthcare system into shape, the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) argued the Liberals are using a cannon to kill a fly.

“I think it’s an extreme solution and I think and we haven’t reached that point,” said Éric Caire.

The bill will be studied in parliamentary commission and could be passed as early as next year.

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