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Province providing cash to help family doctors with overhead costs amid ongoing work on new pay model

Nearly 3,500 doctors are expected to receive the 'stabilization funding'

By Shannon Waters
August 25, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Province providing cash to help family doctors with overhead costs amid ongoing work on new pay model

Nearly 3,500 doctors are expected to receive the 'stabilization funding'

By Shannon Waters
Aug 25, 2022
Photo: BC Government via Flickr
Photo: BC Government via Flickr
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Province providing cash to help family doctors with overhead costs amid ongoing work on new pay model

Nearly 3,500 doctors are expected to receive the 'stabilization funding'

By Shannon Waters
August 25, 2022
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Province providing cash to help family doctors with overhead costs amid ongoing work on new pay model
Photo: BC Government via Flickr

For four months beginning in October, most family doctors in BC will receive provincial funding to help cover overhead costs related to their practices.

The new “stabilization funding” will “help family doctors keep their doors open for patients” while the Ministry of Health and Doctors of BC continue to work to “develop and implement a new payment model,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. In April, the province announced $3.5 million to help five walk-in clinics in Greater Victoria remain open through the end of the year.

Individual family physicians who pay their own overhead will be eligible for the funding, as will primary care and walk-in clinics that “commit to remaining open and maintaining consistent clinic hours,” at least through the end of January. All told, nearly 3,500 family doctors are expected to receive the interim support. 

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Doctors currently receive a flat $31 fee for most patient visits. Overhead costs—like space, equipment, and staffing—come out of that fee, which doesn’t change based on the length of the visit or the number of problems the patient presents with.

Government support to help pay the business costs of running a clinic, and improvements to the current payment model were the top two asks from primary care physicians who participated in a Doctors of BC survey in June

Since then, at least one family physician in the Greater Victoria area tried to get creative about covering clinic costs by asking patients for an “operational and service fee” of $125 a month. (Dr. Perpetua Nwosu of Victoria’s Perpetual Health Clinic has since retracted the proposed fee and plans to operate outside the public health care system.)

“This funding gives us time over the next four months to finalize and implement a new payment model that will help us to recruit and retain doctors into long-term family practice,” said Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh, president of Doctors of BC. 

Doctors of BC members—who received word from the organization that stabilization funding was on the way in an Aug. 8 email—hailed the money as “a much needed step” to prevent primary care clinics from continuing to close due to cost pressures, according to Dr. Dosanjh.

The new payment model will address rising business costs and “recognize the value of family doctors in the primary care system,” she said. Following consultation with its members, Doctors of BC proposed a hybrid model featuring fee-for-service and contract compensation options but negotiations with the province to finalize the new model are ongoing.

Some family doctors like the fee-for-service model— “they value business autonomy and do not want to enter into contracts with health authorities”—but want more money, according to the June survey. Others are in favour of a new compensation model that addresses rising business costs and also takes into account the complexities of providing primary care.

—With files from Brishti Basu

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Shannon Waters
Municipal affairs reporter

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