Fees Billed to Patients : The FMSQ Calls Upon the Government One More Time
Montreal, Thursday, April 16, 2015 – Following the example of the Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ), the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ) is once again calling upon the government to guarantee access to services provided to patients in medical offices.
What is the case in a hospital is not the same in a medical office
At the hospital, physicians receive a professional fee from the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), for medical acts they perform, but all the other costs pertaining to needed human and physical resources to dispense this care are assumed by the hospital centre. However, when this care takes place in a medical office, physicians receive the professional fee for the medical acts they perform, while having to assume many costs that are not reimbursed by the public health insurance plan, such as human and physical resources (staff, acquisition and maintenance of equipment, sterilization, etc.). These can amount to several tens of thousands of dollars; just think, for example, of the endoscopes used to perform colonoscopies which can detect cancers or the lasers used to treat lesions. This is why extra fees are sometimes billed to patients.
Insisting on the fact that medical offices are an important component, indeed an essential link in the public healthcare system, since hospitals cannot cope with the provision of services to patients, the FMSQ insists that the problem originates with the current framework which has never been revised. "In the current state of things, the implementation of a few sections of the CMQ's new code of ethics, scheduled for next July 7th, places physicians in front of a difficult choice : to carry on or to cease certain activities performed in their offices," explains the President of the FMSQ, Dr Diane Francœur.
A demand oftentimes repeated
The Federation has often asked the government to rule on this issue. The MSSS has had in its possession, since October 1, 2007, a report by a working committee on accessory fees (the Chicoine report) which it had mandated and which dealt with the problems of financing medical offices. This report was produced, at the government's specific request, by a committee made up of representatives of the two medical federations, the CMQ, the RAMQ and the Ministry of Health. The report stipulated that it was important to take into account the evolution of technologies and equipment, the cost of various technical components as well as advances in medicine. Unfortunately, the report has since remained in limbo.
"The MSSS must ensure the financing of medical offices, otherwise the result will be to put into question the population's access to a wide range of specialized medical services. The FMSQ is ready to work towards this end," adds the President. "This is urgent because, in the medical offices concerned by the sections of the new code of ethics, the appointment diary cannot extend beyond July 7th; they have a decision to make," she concludes.
The Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec represents close to 10,000 medical specialists certified in one of the 53 recognized medical specialties.
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