9/9/10

Wait times cash cow. Have the docs found a way past the wage freeze?

The Globe and Mail is raising concerns in its lead news story today about rapidly increasing payments to physicians.  OCHU/CUPE had raised similar concerns several months ago, uncovering a 57.6% funding increase for doctors between 2004-5 and 2009-10.

Notably, the Globe also ties the rapid increase to the development of wait time funding by the Ontario government.  OCHU / CUPE has also raised concerns about wait time funding as it is a form of price-based funding that opens the door to privatization and a market for health care.

Judging from the Globe's account, the market has resulted in handsome increases for some doctors, with 259 now billing over $1 million annually.

One group of docs that have benefited in particular is the opthamologists who do cataract surgeries through the wait times programs (sometimes at clinics like the new Kensington Eye Clinic in Toronto rather than at hospitals).  The Globe notes that health-care experts say the fee structure for doctors has not kept pace with technological advances that have reduced cataract surgery time by more than half over the past two decades

The Globe wisely concludes:

"Revelations about the top OHIP billers come at an awkward time for Premier Dalton McGuinty. His Liberal government is calling on labour leaders to impose wage freezes for two years on nurses, doctors, teachers and other public-sector workers who bargain collectively. "

dallan@cupe.ca

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