Physician payments: Telling the public what’s involved

August 10, 2020

Dr. Christine Molnar, AMA President

Dear Members:

The Minister of Health has stated that he will proceed to release a “Sunshine List” for physician payments. A law to allow this was passed in 2015, but never acted upon. The original law required consultation with the AMA before the information could be released.

This was discussed at the recent special virtual Representative Forum. Delegates overwhelmingly agreed that while they don’t mind the public knowing how much they make, it’s extremely important that the public not equate billing data with take-home pay. The RF passed a motion calling for appropriate information sharing with the public about physician payment data in advance of the Sunshine List release.

Accordingly, today we have issued the document Context Matters: The Facts About Physician Compensation in Alberta. I’m also providing our news release. I will be giving interviews, as will representatives of a number of sections. We will be sharing this information on social media throughout the week; if you are on social media yourself, please feel free to boost and share the material.

Alberta Health has asked to meet for the required consultation. I am not optimistic that our concerns will be heard, but I assure you we will strongly convey some simple and important messages:

1.    Gross billing data is seriously misleading and as such a Sunshine List must provide information about the appropriate context.
2.    Transparency about payments to physicians can be achieved without individual identification.
3.    Publication of billing data by name will put some physicians and their families at risk; an exemption process is essential.

I will keep you posted on what we learn.

In your service

Christine P. Molnar, MD, FRCPC
President, Alberta Medical Association


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