QMA news

The QMA participates in guaranteed access consultations

Tuesday 04 April 2006

A more significant contribution from the private sector needed to enhance health care access

Montreal, April 04 2006 — On the eve of the presentation to the Social Affairs Commission of a memoir from the Quebec Medical Association, representing the QMA’s contribution to the consultation on the ministerial document Guaranteeing access: a challenge of equity, efficience and quality (French only), QMA President Dr. Robert Ouellet affirmed that: "We need to entertain the idea of a more significant intervention of the private sector in the financing and delivery of health services than that provided for in the Couillard plan."

The discussions held by the task force set up by the QMA, along with the results of surveys both of physicians and of the Quebec public at large over the past year have resulted in the adoption of a pragmatic, rather than ideological position focused on practical ways of improving service accessibility, while respecting the values dear to Quebecers. “We believe that if proper guidelines are set out, the use of the private sector may be an incentive to efficiency and contribute to healthy competition between the institutions that provide services,” stated the QMA spokesperson.

In its memoir, the QMA reiterates its support for the maintenance of significant public financing and for the principle of equal access to the system and to professional resources for all citizens without regard to their ability to pay. Consequently, a free-market approach that will allow speedier access to care by well-off citizens is not to be envisaged, since it runs counter to the principle of equity. However, the QMA also believes that the status quo is no longer a viable option.

Dr. Ouellet believes that “physicians should be allowed to practise in both the private and public sectors, in certain areas where there are no shortages and where the supply exceeds the demand. While respecting the concept of a hermetic separation between the provision of services financed by the public sector and those financed by the private sector, the QMA believes that the government should authorize dual services providing these translate into an improvement in the accessibility of services, an increase in the capacity of the health system, and a reduction in wait time. “Surgeons who cannot obtain sufficient operating time within the public time are a good example of the underuse of specialists, a situation that needs to be corrected.”

The government should also abolish salary ceilings for general practitioners, an impediment to accessibility that is no longer justified. In the same order of ideas, the introduction of appropriate modes of compensation and working conditions would be an incentive to case management of those suffering from chronic illnesses.

Additionally, the QMA believes that the population should be allowed to take out private insurance policies for a range of medical and surgical procedures. Specialized affiliated clinics should be authorized to carry out a wide range of medical procedures that do not require reliance on unwieldy hospital infrastructures, rather than being limited to the procedures targeted by the proposed health care guarantee (hip, knee, cataract). According to the QMA President, “with proper monitoring, this opening up onto the private sector can be very well achieved without any deleterious repercussions for the public sector.”

Moreover, The QMA is in agreement with the idea of setting up a “health and social services account” which would consolidate all health and social services expenditures and include a statutory annual accounting procedure. The QMA also agrees with the introduction of a loss-of-autonomy insurance plan whose funds would be managed independently by the Régie des Rentes du Québec.

Finally, the QMA views positively the idea of carrying out public prevention and information campaigns and suggests that the government introduce incentives, more especially tax incentives, for those who opt for a healthy lifestyle and for firms that facilitate such choices.

Dr. Robert Ouellet will be available to answer questions from journalists at 2:30 p.m. on April 5, just prior to the resumption of hearings. The meeting will take place outside the Legislative Council Chamber in the Parliament building. The QMA will present its memoir at 5 p.m.

Source :   Chantal Mantha

Communications Advisor

Quebec Medical Association

(514) 866-0660