Negotiations begin

December 7, 2017

Hello Members:

Negotiations commence this week with Alberta Health to negotiate a new master agreement. With the 2016 Amending Agreement, we saw an opportunity to help government with the province’s fiscal challenges. At the same time, we wanted to increase our influence within the system in order to improve quality of care. Physicians stepped up as leaders and we have been successful. With the savings initiatives, we managed to slow the rate of growth of health expenditures from about 10% annually to about 4.5% last year. Early figures suggest we will see a further reduction to the growth rate this year, all of which is directly associated with physician stewardship activities.

There are many core provisions of our current agreement that continue past the end of the expiring agreement and remove “the cliff” that we have faced in the past when agreements expire.

These continuing (“evergreen”) provisions in the current agreement include:

• Schedule of Medical Benefits and Alternative Relationship Plans
• Continuing Medical Education
• Medical Liability Reimbursement
• Other physician support programs
• The ability to arbitrate on other core provisions

There will be more details on the evergreen and non-evergreen parts of our current agreement in a future communication.

We will be working in the days ahead to negotiate terms of the physician assistance programs and all other financial and non-financial aspects of a new agreement that will be in effect on April 1, 2018.

It is no secret that government continues under financial pressure and this will be reflected in our discussions. The AMA’s opening position (approved by the Representative Forum) reflects that we have contributed significantly to cost reductions in recent years (even before the savings initiatives of the past year) – and that we expect such leadership will be recognized in upcoming discussions.

I am optimistic. I believe that the contributions of physicians have been noted. I think the parties remain committed to reaching an arrangement that is good for both fiscal prudence and quality care. I recognize the challenges, but there is opportunity to build on the progress of recent years and to continue toward the high-performing health care system that our patients deserve.

This is the first of a planned series of President’s Letters on the topic of the negotiations. What will follow are communications on a variety of topics including breaking down our issues lists, some of the key points about our opening position and how the structure and provisions of our existing agreement will influence these negotiations.

There are many things to talk about. To make it easier to spot negotiations-related information in the months ahead, please watch for the following banner at the top of relevant emails.

Negotiations 2018

I would really like to know what you think about negotiations and where the profession is going. I want to hear all perspectives – on this or any other topic!

It would be especially helpful if, when you comment, you tell me a little about yourself, where you are from, what your specialty is and what setting you work in.

You can give feedback in three different ways:

• Communicate with me privately and directly by email if you would like a reply:  
• Comment publicly below
• Share your perspectives with colleagues in our new Discussion Board for members only (member log in required).

At your service,

Neil D.J. Cooper, MD, FRCPC, Dip. Sport Med.

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