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Province reaches tentative agreement with Alberta doctors

A tentative deal has been reached between doctors and the Alberta government. File / Getty Images

After months of negotiations, the Alberta government and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) have reached a tentative contract agreement. If ratified by both parties, it would see a package of amendments made to the 2011-2018 AMA agreement.

The changes would include:

  • A needs-based Physician Resource Plan that will help put doctors in communities that need them
  • Primary care improvements including new information technology and data-sharing
  • New compensation models that reward time and quality of care given to patients, not just the number of services provided

The province said the deal is expected to “significantly slow the growth of health care spending by the end of 2018, while protecting services” thanks to new peer reviews, accountability measures and compensation structure.

“Doctors hold positions of privilege and great responsibility in our province, and play an essential role in the health and well-being of all Albertans,” Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said. “As stewards of our health system, they have shown a willingness to partner with the government in developing solutions that will slow down the growth in health spending and improve health services for patients over the long-term.”

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Improving efficiency and decreasing costs to the health system were also priorities of the AMA going into negotiations.

“It is important to have a cooperative relationship between physicians and government to achieve fiscal stability while still maintaining access and quality,” AMA president Dr. Carl Nohr said. “The physician members of the AMA understand our professional responsibilities as stewards of the system. With this set of proposed amendments to our agreement, we have created tools that can move us toward a high value, integrated and sustainable system.”

In an Aug. 30 post on the AMA website, Nohr said the proposed amendments will try to control the growth in spending for physicians while maintaining quality of care.

“Expenditures have been growing at a rate well above the combined impact of inflation and population growth for a number of reasons: population aging; patient expectations; technology; increased physician supply; and changes in clinical practice,” he explained. “It should be emphasized that the goal is to reduce the rate of expenditure growth, not to cut expenditures.

Nohr said he is grateful for the positive response from members to the conversations about stewardship and integrated care.

The AMA board of directors and the Representative Forum will meet on Sept. 8 and decide if the tentative amendments package warrants being sent to the membership for a vote.

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