Latest news on stipends

October 21, 2021

Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren, AMA President

Dear Members,
 
For many months now we have been working to support members with respect to Alberta Health Services stipend payments. As members know, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services have said they will be ending stipend contracts with over 120 groups of physicians on December 31. So far, there has been little productive discussion on developing agreeable, viable alternatives.
 
The Stipend Action Committee was formed to guide the AMA to represent the widely varied circumstances of more than 1,700 physicians caught up in the stipend discussions. The SAC has written a letter (member login required) to AH and AHS, formally requesting an extension past December 31 and laying out the reasons for doing so. We’ve received acknowledgement of our letter, but no formal response to date. Given the criticality of these services, we’ve requested a response no later than October 25.
 
As the SAC letter notes, we recognize that AHS and AH have been working toward transitioning many of these stipend programs to alternative payment arrangements. Physicians have concerns with the process and there has been minimal progress made in addressing physicians' concerns. We believe an extension to stipend contracts is a reasonable request in order to prevent disruption to patients affected by these programs. We are hopeful that AHS and AH will agree.
 
Why is more time required? There are many stipend groups, and circumstances vary widely. A small number of groups are ready to move to Alternative Relationship Plans, but the process is slow. Other groups would like to move to ARPs but have been told they can’t, while no alternatives have been provided. Some groups have been offered ARPs that fall short of physician resource requirements to safely provide services. In other cases, the offered terms are acceptable, but physicians are concerned that AHS may change the playing field, e.g., by adding new overhead charges.
 
The common denominator is the need for fair, due process with dispute resolution. This will only be possible if the December 31 deadline is removed. With AMA support, stipend physicians have been writing their own letters to AHS and government, laying out what’s at stake should the stipend programs end. You can find more information on our website.
 
I will keep you posted on what develops and our plans for next steps. The implications for many members - and many more patients - are significant and come at a time when our health care system is already incredibly strained.
 
Please let me know what you think about this or any other topic.

  • Communicate with me privately and directly by email if you would like a reply: president@albertadoctors.org.
  • Comment publicly on this President’s Letter (please be aware that comments are public, i.e., not members-only, even if you are logged in as a member).

Sincerely,

Vesta Michelle Warren, MD, CCFP, FCFP
President, Alberta Medical Association

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