After months of talks, the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) have reached a tentative agreement that recognizes a shared responsibility to provide quality health care in a financially sustainable framework.
“Doctors hold positions of privilege and great responsibility in our province, and play an essential role in the health and well-being of all Albertans. As stewards of our health system, they have shown a willingness to partner with the government in developing solutions that will slow down the growth in health spending and improve health services for patients over the long-term.”
Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health
“It is important to have a cooperative relationship between physicians and government to achieve fiscal stability while still maintaining access and quality. The physician members of the AMA understand our professional responsibilities as stewards of the system. With this set of proposed amendments to our agreement, we have created tools that can move us toward a high value, integrated and sustainable system.”
The tentative agreement is in the form of a set of amendments to the existing 2011-18 agreement. The amendments include a commitment to collaborate on various initiatives intended to improve health services including:
- A needs–based Physician Resource Plan that will help place doctors in the communities that need them;
- Primary care improvements including new information technology and data-sharing;
- New compensation models that reward time and quality of care given to patients, not just the number of services provided.
The agreement is expected to significantly slow the growth of health care spending by the end of 2018, while protecting services.
This will be accomplished through several innovations, including: new physician peer review and accountability mechanisms; and the linking of certain benefits and compensation increases to performance on other cost-saving measures.
Upon ratification, the current master agreement with physicians will be amended. In addition, the government and the AMA have agreed to immediately commence negotiations on the overall master agreement that were previously scheduled to begin in 2017.
The AMA will be providing an in-depth explanation of the tentative agreement to its members in the coming weeks and will hold a consultation with its governing body, the Representative Forum. Dates are being finalized but it’s expected that a vote would be held by mid-October.