Retro BCP payments and other physician compensation news

February 28, 2019

Dr. Alison Clarke, AMA President

Dear Members:

Just as physicians cannot help patients achieve their best health by focusing on only one aspect of being healthy, similarly, in overseeing the AMA’s work toward financial health, the Board must take a comprehensive approach.

The AMA maintains a Physician Compensation Strategy that seeks to provide value for patients and fairness to physicians, and last December the Board approved an updated version which can be read here (member login required).

The Strategy matters because it is about more than how we are paid; it’s about how compensation can link to the way we deliver care to our patients and how other factors, such as informatics and integration, also have a role to play. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that the financial health of physicians and the well-being of the health care system are deeply linked. One cannot do well if the other side is not doing well.

That’s why the Physician Compensation Strategy is crucial for the organization, particularly in times where economic uncertainties exist for the province. Among other things, the strategy is used to guide AMA representatives participating in various committees concerned with physician compensation. It connects matters of physician compensation with health system objectives and outlines the necessary supports and mechanisms for successful implementation. There are four pillars that focus the work of the strategy: equity, access, productivity, and quality.

I encourage all members to review the strategy to gain a better understanding of the bigger picture and how we will use this to help achieve our vision.

New Physician Compensation Committee chair appointed

I am pleased to announce that Dr. David Peachey has been appointed as the new independent chair of the Physician Compensation Committee.

Under the terms of the AMA Agreement, the AMA and Alberta Health have joint responsibility to recruit a chair for the Physician Compensation Committee. The PCC chair acts in a capacity independent of any of the PCC member organizations (Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and the AMA).

Dr. Peachey is a Principle of Health Intelligence Inc., a consulting firm that has been commissioned to do work for the governments of seven provinces and territories, including Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Manitoba. Dr. Peachey was selected through the Government of Alberta’s competitive procurement process and comes to the position with over 40 years of medical experience and 23 years of consulting work. Dr. Peachey is replacing former PCC chair, Christopher Sheard, whose contract as chair ended on March 31, 2018.

The AMA looks forward to working with Dr. Peachey and the PCC members regarding issues of physician compensation, planning and other related initiatives.

Retroactive payments for the Business Costs Program

The 2018 Amendment to the AMA Agreement established an amount of $45 million in fee and program increases to represent the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). This amount is retroactive to April 1, 2017 and, as you’re aware, a series of retroactive payments are being made for the time period of April 1, 2017 to November 1, 2018 (when the revised Schedule of Medical Benefits was implemented). The latest payment, covering the 2017-18 COLA for the Business Costs Program, is scheduled to be deposited on March 1, 2019.

With this payment, Alberta Health has implemented programming changes that will provide clinics with a physician-level breakdown of the retroactive payment on their statement of account (eliminating the need to request a breakdown).

Further details regarding the payment will be made available in an upcoming Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan bulletin, to be posted soon. Alberta Health has also designated a new inquiry email address for any specific questions regarding the payment. Please contact physicianretropayment@gov.ab.ca.

I welcome your feedback on these or any other topics. You can (i) reach me by email, (ii) comment to colleagues on our Discussion Board or (iii) make a public comment on our website. The links are here:

  • Communicate with me privately and directly by email if you would like a reply: president@albertadoctors.org
  • Share your perspectives with colleagues on our member-only Discussion Board (member login required).
  • Comment publicly on this President’s Letter, below.

Warm regards,

Alison M. Clarke, MD, CCFP, FCFP
President

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