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OMA Protecting Gains in Health Care


THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  -----   November 13, 2012  ---  The  government of Ontario  and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) have tentatively agreed on a new OMA OntarioPhysician Services Agreement that runs to March 2014.
The OMA Board of Directors has unanimously recommended the agreement for ratification by its members.  The physician ratification process will occur in early December.

The agreement protects and builds on the gains made for patients over the last nine years through the partnership of the McGuinty government and the OMA.

Main elements of the agreement include:
 Modernizing the delivery of health care and lowering wait times through e-consultations, enabling patients to communicate with their doctor more easily, allowing for more virtual connections between family doctors and specialists, and an expansion of telemedicine services.
New priority investments to expand access to family doctors for seniors and patients with higher needs, including an expansion of house calls.
A 0.5 per cent payment discount for all physicians that the OMA and Ministry of Health will work to replace by finding additional evidence-based savings.
New evidence-based changes that support the sustainability of the health care system and the protection of high quality patient care, including: reducing unnecessary pre-op cardiac testing for low-risk, non-cardiac patients; modernizing the annual health exam, personalizing it to the individual needs of healthy adults and reducing unnecessary tests; and aligning the frequency of colonoscopies and cervical cancer screening to meet Cancer Care Ontario guidelines.
Savings from physician-influenced health system reforms will allow the physician services budget to increase by a cumulative $100 million over two years. These savings will be used to help new doctors join the health care system. Physician-influenced reforms include reducing unnecessary lab testing, streamlining physician-influenced hospital equipment purchases, and more evidence-based drug prescribing.
After careful review of the regulatory changes made in May, six fees will be adjusted: the self-referral fee, the Optical Coherence Tomography fee, the after-hours premium, the anesthesia flat fee, the laparoscopic premium, and the Coronary Intensive Care premium.  Obligations are also being changed in the Schedule of Benefits for lumbar spine X-rays and CT scans.
The Ministry and the OMA have also clarified and formalized their partnership through an agreement that establishes a process to resolve disputes in the future.
“I am pleased to have reached an agreement with the OMA that puts patients first and respects our doctors. By working together and being creative, we were able to find solutions that strengthen our health care system while working within our fiscal constraints. This agreement renews a real partnership between our government and Ontario’s doctors, as we transform Ontario’s public medicare system so that it is there for our children and grandchildren.”
 Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
“Ontario doctors’ were pleased to help the province find savings in the health care system that protect patient care and allow for investments in other areas. Most important to patients, we’ve established a partnership that means that we can continue this important work in the future.”
 Doug Weir, President, Ontario Medical Association

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