While residents were being asked to shine a light for their doctors over the weekend, the Ontario Medical Association physicians say many of their members may go out of business, due to office closures and out-of-date funding arrangements with Queen's Park.

The association says the financial arrangements being offered by the province are 'ridiculous,' as they offer interest-free loans to doctors until the pandemic is over, which could be July. However, doctors say many clinics won't have enough revenue to sustain their clinics, until summer.

In response, the province has been in talks with the association, in order to address what's being described as a glitch, but no agreement has yet been reached.

Residents were asked to shine a light Friday evening, in support of doctors in their fight against the coronavirus.

Letter to OMA members:

Colleagues,

I promised to keep you up to date on the issues around our ask for funding to stabilize the health care system. Sadly, the news is not good.

As you know, the OMA Board rejected the MOH proposal for “Advance Payments” on Monday. The proposal essentially amounted to a no-interest loan to be recovered by government through OHIP billings in several months. It was based on the false premise that physicians would be able to somehow make up the work that they have not done from mid-March to likely June at some point in the future. We all know that is ridiculous.

Today, we received word that in response to this, the MOH will:

Impose the Advance Payments regardless on the membership. Reject OMA proposals to provide virtual palliative care. Reject OMA proposals to provide physician leadership in Long Term Care – the current epicentre of the pandemic.

Reject OMA efforts to correct the Ministry’s ill-conceived plan to not allow physicians to bill the E078 value on telephone codes. Reject OMA proposals to expand the suite of virtual care services physicians can deliver. Reject the 10% premium paid of phone codes for family doctors in the FHG models.

The above decisions by the MOH represent short-sighted health policy decisions. While we are proud of the role that doctors and the OMA have played in flattening the curve and restoring the economy ASAP, our community health infrastructure is at extreme risk.

Advance payments will only punt the cash crunch down the line. Assuming clinics stay open (and we all know that many will close), they will now be faced with financial difficulties when they are forced to pay the payments back in November.

Ceasing to discuss issues around long term care, where 296 people have already died, is wrong policy. Refusing to discuss issues around the provision of palliative care is wrong policy. Refusing to implement the E078 is poor policy. In summary, the MOH will adversely affect the patients of Ontario, and result in worse health care outcomes, drive up the rates of hospitalization, and ultimately be far more expensive for the taxpayer.

In response, we have sent the following to Health Minister Christine Elliott (click here). You can see the following ads that will be in local newspapers throughout the province here.

Many of you have sent in pictures of the notices in your office indicating you are closed. We will start distributing these and indicate that the MOH is responsible. We will continue to distribute your stories about how individual physicians have cut back so that the public knows that these decisions by the MOH are hurting their care. If you wish to contribute stories or pictures, please contact info@oma.org.

I realize these are dark days and dark words that I have written. But I once again remind you, the majority of Ontarians are shocked that the MOH would treat physicians this way during a pandemic. It’s going to be difficult, and it won’t be easy, but neither myself, your President-Elect Dr. Samantha Hill, the OMA Board nor our staff will give up fighting for you. You all deserve that because…

Ontario’s Doctors Rock!

Sohail Gandhi OMA President

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