TORONTO, Ont. – Health Minister Deb Matthews announced Tuesday that an agreement between the province and the Ontario Medical Association has been reached.

OMA’s board of directors unanimously recommended the agreement for ratification by its members. The physician ratification process will occur in early December.

Matthews said the tentative agreement with the OMA includes savings in some areas to offset additional payments for doctors.

“I am very, very excited, but not just because it meets our physical mandate, which it does,” Matthews said. “It means we can spend more money on home care and community care.”

Premier Dalton McGuinty said the deal is good news for everyone but noted the difficulty the OMA and province had reaching a deal.

“I am proud to report that we have found ways to come back to the table to demonstrate some flexibility on the part of each  party to this agreement,” McGuinty said.

The deal adds $100-million to Ontario doctors’ total compensation and reverses some earlier fee cuts.

A ratification vote will be held in December and if a deal is reached it will last until 2014.

Main elements of the agreement include (courtesy of Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care):

  • Modernizing the delivery of health care and lowering wait times through e-consultations, enabling patients to communicate with their doctor more easily, allowing for more virtual connections between family doctors and specialists, and an expansion of telemedicine services
  • New priority investments to expand access to family doctors for seniors and patients with higher needs, including an expansion of house calls
  • A 0.5 per cent payment discount for all physicians that the OMA and Ministry of Health will work to replace by finding additional evidence-based savings
  • New evidence-based changes that support the sustainability of the health care system and the protection of high quality patient care, including: reducing unnecessary pre-op cardiac testing for low-risk, non-cardiac patients; modernizing the annual health exam, personalizing it to the individual needs of healthy adults and reducing unnecessary tests; and aligning the frequency of colonoscopies and cervical cancer screening to meet Cancer Care Ontario guidelines
  • Savings from physician-influenced health system reforms will allow the physician services budget to increase by a cumulative $100 million over two years. These savings will be used to help new doctors join the health care system Physician-influenced reforms include reducing unnecessary lab testing, streamlining physician-influenced hospital equipment purchases, and more evidence-based drug prescribing
  • After careful review of the regulatory changes made in May, six fees will be adjusted: the self-referral fee, the Optical Coherence Tomography fee, the after-hours premium, the anesthesia flat fee, the laparoscopic premium, and the Coronary Intensive Care premium. Obligations are also being changed in the Schedule of Benefits for lumbar spine X-rays and CT scans