I write to you with extreme concern with regards to changes in how family physicians will be paid in the near future.
The Government of Alberta (Alberta Health) is about to change fee codes and abruptly withdraw $224 million from family physicians as early as February 2020. Family physicians will be responsible for 85% of the $262 million that Government wants to reduce across all physicians’ payments.
This will be done by changing the time modifiers that we use to be able to see patients longer and for more complicated problems. The net effect of this will be a 20-30% reduction in gross billings. Unfortunately, given the fact that overhead expenses remain about the same, this may result in an even greater reduction in physician net income (i.e. 30-40% reduction).
Not many people are aware that family practices are private businesses that are built by physicians with their own money. The Government does not contribute any money towards building, equipment, staffing, supplies, leases or other running costs. All these are paid out of the money received from billings submitted to Alberta Health. Most clinic owners incur significant personal financial liability to build and maintain clinics as any business owner does. The truth is that the Government or Alberta Health Services simply can’t build or operate clinics as efficiently as Family Physicians. This has been proven before.
In order for family physicians to be able to deliver comprehensive care within the medical home model, it is important to maintain the current billing modifiers.
It needs to be made clear that Family Physicians are specialists in their field and the services they provide every day establish the foundation that keeps the rest of the Healthcare system running. These services are not replaceable anywhere at present and it will take years and unsustainable expenses for Government to provide such services.
I implore you to contact your MLA, the Minister of Health and Premier Kenney’s office directly and feel free to share this letter with them.
Sincerely Family Docs in Rock