Eye Health in Ontario Jeopardized by Changes to Doctor Fees

(http://www.MacularDegenerations.com) Changes to doctor fees in Ontario are jeopardizing the eye health of people in the province, according to the Toronto Sun on June 11, and the situation has led to a war of words between a leading advocacy group and the provincial government.

The article cited Canadian Institute for the Blind (CNIB) President and CEO John M. Rafferty as saying in a letter sent to Government of Canada Health Minister Deb Matthews that the doctor compensation changes will postpone the diagnosis and treatment of eye ailments. Rafferty added in the article that CNIB believes that the fee changes could see Ontarians unnecessarily suffer with vision loss issues.

According to the article, the provincial government’s recent move to change the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) payment structure could translate into a scenario where ophthalmologists might feel that it is no longer economically sensible to own an Optical Coherence Tomograpy (OCT) imaging machine. These machines are used to determine if someone has age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and to treat them after a diagnosis is made.

According to the article, Rafferty added in the letter sent to Matthews that AMD and glaucoma happen to be two significant causes of vision impairment in the province. He added that more than half of CNIB’s clients have either AMD or glaucoma. Both eye conditions come with a small amount of symptoms in the initial phases, but they can get worse in a hurry and lead to permanent vision problems that could ultimately result in blindness.

In the article, Matthews insisted that changes to the payment structure are in line with the Canadian Opthalmological Society’s guidelines. While confirming that the government will carefully consider CNIB’s complaints, Matthews explained that CNIB lacks the information needed to take an informed position on the matter. Matthews said in the article that she will ensure that CNIB gets the information it presently lacks so that it can understand why government has taken the position that it has. Matthews said in the article that there needs to be a rebalancing of payments to opthalmologists at a time when they achieve average annual OHIP billings of $666,000.

Reference: http://www.torontosun.com/2012/06/11/fee-changes-shortsighted-cnib-says


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