As of October 14, 2016, members of the Alberta Medical
Association ("AMA") voted to have the AMA Board approve
the amendment of the 2011-2018 AMA Agreement with Alberta Health,
together with a number of other collateral agreements with Alberta
Health and AHS. This approval and ratification marks a fundamental
change in Alberta's stewardship of healthcare resources and
hopes to foster stronger relationships between the AMA, AHS and
Building on the existing agreement, the amendments will bring
many new additions, chief amongst them being the establishment of a
"shared responsibility" model for the Physician Services
Budget. Prior to the amendments, Alberta Health assumed
responsibility for health care expenditures and carried associated
risks. Both Alberta Health and the AMA recognized the old scheme
was unsustainable in Alberta's current economy. The newly
implemented changes are designed to get doctors working with
government to help control healthcare expenditures while ensuring
patients have access to quality services.
The "shared responsibility" model operates using three
components: Available Amount, Actual Expenditures, and
The Available Amount includes payments for province-wide medical
services and programs, plus general inflators for cost of living
adjustments, the impact of numbers of physicians, and other
contingencies. The Available Amount is not capped, but calculated
every year according to a formula set out in the Amending
Agreement. The Actual Expenditures are the amounts Alberta Health
actually spend on medical services, benefits and programs.
Reconciliation involves comparing the Available Amount with the
Actual Expenditures and determining how to resolve any
The new model will have Alberta Health paying out certain
benefits and fee increases if the Actual Expenditures are less than
the Available Amount. If the Actual Expenditure is more that the
Available Amount, Alberta Health will withhold some or all of those
payments. The benefit to this approach is to encourage physicians
to take on an active role in controlling costs while ensuring the
AMA is not responsible for making up the entire difference if
spending continues to eclipse savings.
Along with shared budget responsibility, the amending agreement
and the collateral agreements also introduce several initiatives to
reduce costs while maintaining value. These include new strategies
for enhanced data sharing and integrated care, as well as
improvements to the Schedule of Medical Benefits
("SOMB"). Specifically, the parties have agreed to
develop and ratify a provincial framework covering all of
Alberta's Primary Care Networks. An Integrated Care
Consultation Agreement has also been developed to address the
importance of integrated care throughout the healthcare system. The
AMA and Alberta Health have committed to streamlining SOMB updates
and expediting efforts to price medical services according to their
comparative value in terms of patient care.
Essentially these contracts will craft a new healthcare
landscape in Alberta that focuses on collaboration, efficiency, and
sustaining quality and access to healthcare for Alberta
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