Alberta College of Family Physicians says Family Practices Must Benefit from Doctors' Fee Increase

    EDMONTON, March 26 /CNW/ - The Alberta College of Family Physicians
(ACFP) - an organization representing the views of 2,100 family doctors in
Alberta, says it approves of the funding increase for Alberta doctors as long
as it helps practices suffering from crushing increases in overhead costs. The
tentative deal between the Alberta Medical Association and the Alberta
government calls for a 4.5 percent increase in physician fees retroactive to
October 2006. A second 4.5% increase in funding would take effect April 2007.
    Following the announcement that the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) had
reached a tentative two-year fiscal agreement with Alberta Health and Wellness
and the regional health authorities, the Board of the ACFP charged its
Executive Committee to review the agreement and its potential implications for
family practice.
    During its review, the Executive Committee assessed the agreement to see
if community physicians would receive relief from escalating overhead costs.
"Will the global increase of 4.5% plus 4.5 % help those community physicians
who have been bludgeoned by double and triple digit percent increases in
overhead?" asked Dr. Rick Ward, ACFP President Elect. "The answer is - it
depends. There is uncertainty on how this money will be divided between
Alberta physicians through the AMA allocation process."
    Current ACFP President, Dr. John Chiu says, "Family practitioners who
vote for this agreement will do so trusting that the AMA Board will
selectively allocate funds within the agreement to address the economic crisis
of high overhead within their community practices."
    A significant number of family physicians have folded their practices
recently or been forced to join larger practices saying they can no longer
afford the spiraling overhead costs. This has further exacerbated the problem
of a significant shortage of family physicians in Alberta.
    The ACFP has circulated a message today to all its members for the
explicit purpose of reinforcing how vital the allocation process will be in
transforming the potential benefits for family practice into reality. "We
strongly encouraged our members to communicate their opinions, concerns and
suggestions to the AMA Board," says Dr. Chiu.
    Starting today, the AMA has scheduled a series of meetings and
videoconferences across Alberta to discuss the new tentative agreement, with
the first tour occurring in Lethbridge. "We urge our members to attend these
forums as an opportunity to learn more about the agreement and to raise their
concerns and questions about the allocation process", said Dr. Ward.
    Dr. Chiu says, "It is vital that the AMA Board understands the serious
issues faced by community family physicians today, and in the foreseeable
future, the viability of being a family doctor in Alberta."

    For background information on the Alberta College of Family Physicians,
please visit

For further information:

For further information: ACFP Media Contacts: Dr. John F. Chiu,
President, Edmonton, Phone: (780) 710-8833; Dr. Rick Ward, President, Elect,
Calgary, Phone: (403) 650-0673

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