Uncertainty and Instability: Join the AGM to learn our plans

October 2, 2020

Dr. Christine Molnar, AMA President

Dear Members:

We stand for and will continue to seek fairness and stability for our profession

We will survive! Never forget your power, and our united power, even in this continued climate of uncertainty and instability. This was a key theme of the September 25 and 26 virtual Fall Representative Forum. Delegates received the latest updates regarding discussions with government. There were in-depth discussions of our goal for a negotiated agreement, which is the lynchpin of the relationship between physicians and our health care system. We will not cease in pursuing this goal. Albertans both expect and deserve that their government and their physicians will work together in their interests. Every day that passes means lost opportunity.

Physicians continue to endure the impact of a toxic and chaotic environment. We saw yet another illustration of that environment this week. Late Wednesday morning, government advised us that later the same day they would release a bulletin announcing that the AMA’s Alternative Relationship Plan Physician Support Services program was terminated. We knew that government was intending to end the program, but we challenge the logic of this step by a government that claims to seek increased presence of ARPs in Alberta.

Without this important resource to help physicians understand, design and implement the relationships and mechanisms demanded by an ARP, physicians will be far less likely to consider making the move. This is counterproductive to patient care in the environments where ARP practice is best aligned with the goals of care. This is a loss for all. Our colleagues already working in ARPs will continue to need the AMA’s support. Here is an email that we sent to them on Wednesday night. We will be surveying physicians who are most closely involved with ARPs to better understand where the key challenges lie as well as to identify potential solutions. We will report back to you on the results.

There are so many things happening in our health care system. It is important to view these changes in the context of the bigger picture. The underpinnings of the relationship between physicians and the health care system are being tested and – often times – attacked. We must be strategic in our response and in our actions.

These issues will be the subject of a special one-hour session at the AMA’s 115th Annual General Meeting on Monday, October 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. If you would like to learn how the Board is planning for the year ahead; what the AMA is doing as an organization to focus resources where members will need them; and have a chance to ask questions of incoming President Dr. Paul Boucher, Executive Director Mike Gormley and myself; please join us. Every member is welcome and I strongly urge you to participate.

In order to be able to vote at the AGM, you must pre-register before 5 p.m. on Monday, October 5. Those who register after 5 p.m. will be able to attend the meeting, but not allowed to vote. You can register for the AGM here (member login required).

Exemption process for the Sunshine List

Among the many topics that members have raised with me this year, the Sunshine List has possibly caused the greatest level of anxiety. For members concerned about privacy, security and safety, the distress is very real.

The AMA has compiled all available information regarding the exemption process, how to apply and the basis for any appeal. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, October 7. Please note that we have been advised that very few individuals in Alberta have ever been granted exemptions. We do not expect to see much change for physicians.

As I wrote to you September 11, the AMA is ready to respond publicly when government releases the list, sometime before November 9. We have seen signs in media coverage that our messages about the importance of context and the risks of misinterpreting payment data are being heard.

On Monday, October 5 at our Annual General Meeting, my term will end and Dr. Paul Boucher will assume the presidency. I will write again with some comments about the past year.

Here is my message for today. If you want to tell the government that you don’t agree with what they are doing, RENEW your AMA membership this year. Stand united with your colleagues.

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

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