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Medical Staff

Proposed Changes to AHS Physician Compensation

On Feb. 20, 2020 Alberta Health (AH) ended its master agreement with the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) and announced it will introduce a new physician funding framework that takes effect March 31, 2020. This framework includes 11 consultation proposals that aim to:

  • Improve services for patients
  • Prevent cost overruns
  • Align benefit programs and administrative fees with those of comparable provinces

Three of the 11 proposals directly impact and require implementation by AHS operations:

  • Elimination of clinical stipends
  • Standardization of fees paid for interpretation of non-invasive diagnostic tests performed in AHS facilities
  • Revised approach to overhead billing

Additionally, AHS is currently developing a revised Physician On Call Program (POCP) for the province that will change the payment structure for physicians providing on call coverage for AHS facilities and programs. Please review the POCP FAQ for more information.

Clinical Stipends & Income Guarantees

AHS is reviewing the proposal to eliminate payments for clinical services made by AHS to physicians that are in addition to the Fee for Service (FFS) billings eligible through the Schedule of Medical Benefits (SOMB) and Clinical Alternative Relationship Plans (ARP).

This includes clinical stipends, income guarantees and other financial incentives.

The 274 clinical stipend programs currently in place fall into one of three categories. The first two categories are our main areas of focus for this change:

  • Stipends and income guarantees paid to physicians for specific clinical services
  • Stipends and income guarantees paid to physicians in addition to fee for service payments
  • Stipends paid to support alternative providers such as Nurse Practitioners or Clinical Assistants

AHS is consulting with Alberta’s medical leaders and physicians to better understand the impact these proposed changes may have on physicians, and ensure there are sufficient transition periods and minimal impact to the care we provide to patients and families. We are committed to a fair and transparent process during this transition.

Interpretation Fees for Non-Invasive Diagnostic Procedures

Work is also underway to standardize all fees paid for the interpretation of non-invasive diagnostic tests performed at AHS facilities.

Overhead Fees

Every schedule of Medical Benefits (SOMB) fee code covers the care provided to patients as well as overhead costs associated with providing that care. The overhead portion is intended to support things like building lease, supplies and staff.

Due to the current SOMB structure, which includes overhead costs, some AHS physicians are paid for overhead costs which are already covered by AHS.

The new physician compensation framework will help ensure that AHS physicians do not bill for overhead costs that are already covered by AHS.

Additionally, many physicians and physician groups do pay overhead costs for occupying AHS space. These groups will not be impacted by these changes. However, AHS is currently reviewing overhead billing practices in the province and will identify those physicians and/or physician groups that are occupying AHS space without a formal agreement in place.