Quebec to stop paying for IVF, wants doctors to see more patients
Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette has introduced legislation that would force doctors to see more patients and would pull the plug on much of the funding for in-vitro fertilization.
On Friday Gaetan Barrette introduced Bill 20, which would penalize doctors 30 percent of their pay if they fail to have full case loads.
The aim is to get Quebec doctors to drastically hike their average of 14 patients seen a day, well below the national average of 30.
"Fourteen is the lowest number of patients seen per day in the world, in all of the OCDE, that's what it is," said Barrette at a press conference, where he said that he wants the 564 annual patients seen by the average doctor increased to 1,000.
The reform could allow for three million more patient visits per year in Quebec. The bill would also oblige doctors to perform tests within three hours.
The legislation would also drastically scale back the public funding program for IVF treatments begun four years ago.
The Quebec Federation of Medical Specialists (FMSQ) was quick to denounce the proposed legislation, describing it as "nonsense," at an afternoon press conference.
"The program was created by former Health Minister Yves Bolduc without consultation and in total improvisation and now the current minister is also ignoring our recommendations by abolishing the program for all," said FMSQ President Diane Francoeur.
In 2010 the provincial government introduced the publicly-funded in-vitro fertilization program and the province now spends $67 million a year helping woman have children.
Bill 20 would change that, and restrict publicly-funded IVF to infertile couples that have tried several other methods, and would be limited to women aged 18 to 42 who have passed psychological testing.
Barrette said he expects the number of fertility treatments will be cut in half, saving $48 million.
The legislation will also attempt to get family doctors seeing more patients, and penalizing them 30 percent of their pay if they do not.
Barrette expects Bill 20 will enable 3 million more doctors' visits per year, saying that on average, doctors in Quebec see fewer than half as many patients as elsewhere in Canada.
He added that incentives to encourage doctors to see more patients have not worked and it's "time to pass from carrot to stick."
Doctors are already seeing a good volume of patients, as they deal with one million more visits per year, according to the FMSQ and are getting the job done.
"The minister suggests that imposing quotas and penalties will fix everything but nothing could be less true," said Francoeur of the FMSQ. She noted that in spite of difficult conditions 93 percent of patients requiring surgery get it within six months.
The opposition Coalition Avenir Quebec party considers the proposal too severe.
"I think it's deplorable that we are taking a program completely off the table," said Eric Caire, referring to the elimination of payments for IVF.
"I understand wanting to stop abuse, but I think the minister is making an error in doing it this way."