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Alberta health minister announces new funding framework for doctors

Alberta doctors were using the complex modifiers in more than 50 per cent of patients but the Minister said that only 25 per cent of the population has additional complexities.

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Changes to medical billing and physician wages go into effect in April 2020 and 2021 but there are also changes to insured services.

“To protect the safety of patients, we will limit the amount of patients doctors can see to 65 per day,” Shandro said.

The impetus for this change was research out of the U.S. which showed doctors suffer from burnout and that affects patient care. The new rules will not apply to either rural practices or emergency rooms.

Shandro said that even with a freeze on expenditures, the government expected billing to increase by $2 billion dollars over three years. Currently, physician wages and benefits cost $5.4 billion annually.

The complex modifier billing will be reduced from $18 to $9 at minute 16, and $18 at minute 26 and will come into effect in April. That will be phased out in 2021 with only one complex modifier being allowed at minute 26 of $25. The complex modifier is in addition to the base rate of $41 per patient.

Alberta doctors were using the complex modifiers in more than 50 per cent of patients but the Minister said that only 25 per cent of the population has complexities that should require additional billing.

“The patient population in Alberta is not that complex,” Shandro said.

“The billing model was definitely being used incorrectly.”

Other changes include discontinuing clinical stipends for physicians who are also being paid by AHS, disallowing additional billing for overhead, and eliminating the continuing education reimbursement.

There will also be a reduction in insured services. Referrals coming from chiropractors or physiotherapists will no longer be covered by Alberta Health, and driver medical exams for seniors will not longer be covered.

Shandro said talks with the Alberta Medical Association broke down last week and since there is no mandate for the province have an agreement with the Alberta Medical Association, the government will end the requirement with an Order in Council, effective Feb. 20.

Doctors will still be able to bill for their services and they will still be paid, he said.

Deirdre is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard

dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com, @Mitchell_AB on Twitter

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Kenney says up to 3,100 Albertans could to die from coronavirus

But Kenney said those same projections show that 1.6 million Albertans would get sick and 32,000 would die without social distancing measure.

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Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday night that probable scenarios show 800,000 Albertans will get coronavirus and deaths could hit 3,100 by the end of May.

But Kenney said those same projections show that 1.6 million Albertans would get sick and 32,000 would die without social distancing measures.

If all measures on self-distancing and isolation continue and are respected, Kenney said Alberta death figures could be between 400 and 3,100.

Kenney said those social distancing and isolation rules will last at least unto the end of May which is when he said the virus would peak.

He said he was giving Albertans the figures with “complete candor” and he “wasn’t going to sugar-coat it.

“For now, let me say we are confident that our health system will be able to cope, and that we have the supplies on hand,” he said.

He said as part of the government strategy to get the economy going, the provice was aiming at doing 20,000 coronavirus tests a day to get the people who are negative back to work.

And he said Alberta would do much more than Ottawa was in testing and, if needed, quarantining travellers arriving in the province.

He said cellphone apps could be used to help track people in quarantine.

On Tuesday, Alberta reported 25 new cases of the virus bring the provincial total to 1,373

“Our per capita number of recorded infections is the second-highest in Canada, after Quebec, but that is in part because our brilliant scientists and lab technicians are conducting one of the highest levels of COVID-19 testing in the world,” Kenney said.

Kenney said Alberta’s curve is similar to countries that have successfully slowed down the spread of the virus like South Korea.

“This is the greatest challenge of our time,” Kenney said.

There have been 26 deaths across the province, including 12 in the McKenzie Town long term care home.

Earlier Tuesday, Kenny said unemployment in Alberta could hit 25 per cent, a mark not seen since the Dirty 30s.

He added the provincial deficit could triple from $7 billion to $20 billion this year.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: twitter/Nobby7694

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Leaders thank businesses and Canadians

Five more residents die at Calgary seniors home.

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Businesses, non-profits and individuals have been stepping up all over the country to offer products and services that have been identified as necessary. 

ATCO has offered trailers with a potential for remote testing, distilleries began making hand sanitizer, Suncor has donated masks, Shell has donated isopropyl, a major ingredient in producing hand sanitizer, and McDonald’s and Tim Hortons have ensured truck drivers can order food for pick-up. 

“I’m deeply touched by the outpouring of support we’re seeing from private and non-profit organizations, both foreign and domestic. When times are tough, Alberta’s spirit of ingenuity and generosity always answers the call,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Friday.

In Ontario, the government has put out a call for “viable, innovative proposals that can quickly provide critical goods and services and the greatest benefit to the people of Ontario,” a government release said.

“Ontario has an army of innovators, entrepreneurs, and the hardest-working people in the world ready to roll up their sleeves, support our frontline healthcare workers, and beat this virus,” said Premier Ford.

“This mass mobilization of government, business, communities and private citizens to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe and healthy represents one of the largest and most ambitious efforts undertaken by Ontario in generations.”

The Prime Minister announced Tuesday that almost 3,000 Canadian companies have been able to add production to meet critical supply needs of medical and personal protection equipment, as well as test kits, and other companies have donated personal protection equipment they had in supply. 

“Canadian companies are answering the call to provide critical support to our health care workers, who are on the front lines of our country’s fight against COVID-19. As the situation continues to evolve, the Government of Canada will be there to work with Canadian industry to find solutions that will support our medical professionals and protect the health and safety of all Canadians,” the Prime Minister said.

Alberta 

The province reported an additional 107 cases bringing the total to 1,075. The province also announced five more COVID-related deaths in Alberta bringing the total to 18.

Four of the deaths were from the Mckenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary, bringing the total to eight from the single senior’s residence.

108 cases may be community transmission meaning they cannot be traced to international travel or known cases. 

174 people have recovered.

British Columbia

The province reported 53 new cases bringing its total to 1,174. Four additional COVID-related deaths were also reported bringing the province’s total to 35.

641 people have recovered.

Manitoba

The province has identified 15 additional probable cases bringing its total to 182. Manitoba also announced its second COVID-related death.

11 people have recovered.

Saskatchewan

The province reported 14 new cases Thursday bringing its total to 220. 

48 people have recovered.

Provincial cases:

·        Quebec: 6,101 confirmed cases, including 1 recovered and 61 deaths

·        Ontario: 3,675 cases including 501 recovered and 105 deaths

·        British Columbia: 1,131 confirmed cases including 641 recovered and 31 deaths

·        Alberta: 1,075 confirmed cases including 172 recovered and 14 deaths

·        Saskatchewan: 220 confirmed cases including 48 recovered and 3 deaths

·        Nova Scotia: 207 confirmed and presumptive cases

·        Newfoundland and Labrador: 195 confirmed cases and 1 death

·        Manitoba: 182 confirmed cases including 11 recovered and 2 deaths

·        New Brunswick: 95 confirmed and presumptive cases

·        Prince Edward Island: 22 confirmed cases, and 3 recovered

·        Yukon: 5 confirmed cases

·        Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed case

·        Nunavut: 0 cases

There are currently 12,909 cases across Canada with 2,608 from B.C. to Manitoba.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com 
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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Calgary Fire Dept. saves the day for locked down birthday parties

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Planning a depressing lockdown birthday party for a young ‘un?

 

It’s the Calgary Fire Department to the rescue!

 

Fire Chief Steve Dongworth announced a plans on Friday to have a fire truck show up at the homes where people are self-isolating inside while they celebrate a birthday.

 

Dongworth said the fire truck would blast their sirens and the firefighters inside may get on the loudspeaker for a predictable awful version of “Happy Birthday!”

 

The program is open for any Calgary children between the ages of four to twelve, and anyone over 75.

 

He said the fire truck would hopefully get to the birthday party about 2 p.m.

 

Dongworth said some firefighters had already started doing this on their own volition before the department made it a city-wide program.

 

“Those families have been fairly overwhelmed (when the fire trucks showed up), said Dongworth.

 

The chief said the “Drive-by Birthday” program will last until the end of May but could be expanded.

 

Dongworth said the surprise for the younger children should be kept a secret in case the local fire truck gets called away for an emergency but that “we will get to you eventually.”

 

To book a fire truck for your party go here.

 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

 

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

 

Twitter: @Nobby7694

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