Ontario Association of Gastroenterology (OAG)

Ontario Association of Gastroenterology (OAG)

May 17, 2012 10:45 ET

CORRECTION FROM SOURCE: Ontario Gastroenterologists Object to Cuts to Professional Fees

Citizens most at risk from reduced access to screening and diagnostic services

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 17, 2012) -

This document corrects and replaces the press release that was sent today at 9:32 am EDT. Changes were made to the third and fourth paragraphs.

The Ontario Association of Gastroenterology (OAG) today added their voice to growing objections to the Government of Ontario's unilateral decision on May 7, 2012 to overhaul the fee structure for medical procedures and services provided by the province's doctors.

"Our primary concern is for our patients," says OAG President, Dr. David Baron. "After consulting with our members, the OAG and our Board of Directors believe the government's decision will have a serious and negative impact on patient care and access to medical screening, diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy services in the province. We are urging the government to return to the bargaining table and work toward a negotiated settlement."

The OAG says the Province's decision is ironic on two fronts. First, it conflicts with the government's Quality Action Plan, which specifically mentions enhanced colorectal cancer screening and the transfer of procedures such as colonoscopies from hospitals to out-of-hospital facilities. Second, the Canadian Cancer Society reported last week that mortality rates for colorectal cancer are declining due to increased screening. Colonoscopies contribute significantly to this screening, and yet under the restructured system, the fees paid to doctors who perform colonoscopies have been cut by 10% along with the fees for approximately 40 other medical procedures.

The OAG states that the cuts will affect gastroenterologists as well as other medical specialists. The fee reductions are being imposed at the same time that the province expects doctors to cover the costs of performing the procedures at out of hospital facilities. Currently, 100,000 of the colonoscopies performed in Ontario take place in inspected out-of-hospital facilities, that face mounting operating costs. The Ontario government does not contribute to the operating costs or the procedures performed in these facilities. Costs are covered through professional fees collected by gastroenterologists and surgeons who believe they should not have to subsidize the cost of important medical tests.

The government cites advances in technology as one reason for the 10% reduction in fees. While new technologies have enabled greater efficiency for some medical tests, procedures such as colonoscopies are more complex than they were 20 years ago.

The OAG predicts that unless the government works with doctors to continue negotiating the fee structure, out-of-hospital endoscopy services will no longer be viable. Unfortunately, the burden will ultimately fall on the citizens of Ontario, whose access to services will be reduced.

About the Ontario Association of Gastroenterology

The Ontario Association of Gastroenterology (OAG) is a non-profit association serving the practice of gastroenterology in Ontario. The OAG promotes, maintains and improves the knowledge and standards to promote optimal patient care. The OAG represents Ontario gastroenterologists in discussions, meetings and communications with other groups including the Ontario Medical Association, the Government of Ontario and other health professionals.

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