TFP payments, acute care, active advocacy

April 15, 2024

Dr. Paul Parks, AMA President

Dear Members,

The second Inside Scoop Town Hall was Thursday, April 11 and the recording is available (member login required). Here are some comments on the discussion at the session.
Physician Comprehensive Care Model and Transitional Funding Program 

I have been advocating daily regarding the urgency for government to implement the Physician Comprehensive Care Model option to support longitudinal family and rural generalist medicine. We need to see a firm and detailed commitment immediately.

As of April 4, $92 million in stabilization funds were made available through the Transitional Funding Program. This was positive, but the arbitrary cut-off that requires physicians to have a minimum panel of 500 patients has made many members ineligible. This requirement was government’s decision. We argued strongly against it before the payments were released, and I have spoken with the Minister repeatedly about this since then. Small panels matter and those physicians deserve to be supported. A one-time payment is one thing, but we must get this policy right when it comes to the PCCM and its long-term implications.

A related topic in the Q&A at the town hall was the handling of the payments between physicians who received the funds and clinics in which they work (but may not own). Business arrangements in family and rural practices are highly varied. Physicians and clinic owners have a shared interest in ensuring the sustainability of these small businesses. Daily collaboration is the approach that has always served both well. I encourage members and their clinics to discuss how best to maintain the ability to deliver the comprehensive care that their patients need, while we await availability of the PCCM option.

Acute care and active advocacy

Advocacy for acute care was the other topic addressed at the town hall. We also touched on highlights from a discussion at the Spring Representative Forum about how the profession can support the AMA with active advocacy. We will always swing with everything we have to deliver what members need. The voice of individual members, actively advocating, elevates our issues and our voice and greatly increases our power. 
As primary care has been imploding, acute care has faced a parallel and accelerating crisis. The AMA’s Acute Care Stabilization Proposal is a solution that cuts across acute care groups, all facing extreme instability in retaining and recruiting new physicians. This follows years of unaddressed concerns around specialist availability, flexibility in payment arrangements and other matters that restrict patient access and impede the flow of patients into and out of our hospitals. Our proposal has potential to end the inertia that we have been pushing against for so long and is being actively discussed with government.
As we address these issues with representation through our agreement, you will see a new push on acute care advocacy, launching within a week or so. We will shine a light on areas that are important for the public to understand, particularly since there is so much variation across acute care and many Albertans will never encounter some of these specialties. 
Working with cancer care leaders, we are finalizing the first issue in a new series called Confronting the Crisis in Acute Care. You will see us using that information to inform advocacy with government, in the media and with the public. Watch for updates coming soon.

Paul Parks
President, Alberta Medical Association

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