Ontario Liberal Health Minister spar over delivery of physiotherapy
Elgin-Middlesex-London EML Tory MPP Jeff Yurek and Ontario Liberal Health Minister Deb Matthews are arguing whether changes in delivery of physiotherapy to Ontarians is an expansion of service, as Matthews maintains, or a cut, as Yurek claims.
Even physiotherapists, themselves, can’t agree.
Matthews on April 18 announced 200,000 more seniors and others entitled to publicly funded care would get physio, exercise and fall-prevention classes as a result of changes in the way the programs would be delivered.
To accomplish it, the government is ending what essentially was a monopoly enjoyed by 94 for-profit clinics which have been the only ones allowed to bill OHIP since medicare was introduced.
The changes are supported by the Ontario Physiotherapy Association.
But Yurek this week said fewer patients will benefit because the government not only is reducing funding, it largely is redirecting remaining funds from OHIP to Local Health Integration Networks and Community Care Access Centres for distribution.
“This means more money will be eaten up by administration and less spent on front-line care.”
The changes have been decried by the Designated Physiotherapy Clinics Association, whose members are the practitioners allowed to bill OHIP.
Yurek says the government is cutting funding for physio from $172 million annually to $156 million.
But the health ministry says it actually is increasing funding from $146 million.
“This is a short-sighted decision to address a perceived problem of private providers,” Yurek says.
“Ultimately, our seniors and other eligible individuals will suffer.”
But Matthews said in an interview it isn’t acceptable to her that a large part of the province – residents of EML included – have only limited access to publicly funded services provided by designated clinics.
She said the changes will open that up.
And she said a practice of allowing the clinics to bill for one-on-one physio when they actually are delivering exercise classes, is not good use of public money.
Yurek says Matthews changes are not a wise way to spend physio dollars.
“I am so disappointed in Jeff on this one. He just has not done his homework and he’s not standing up for his constituents.”
Resource : St. Thomas Times-Journal, Friday, May 17, 2013
50-60 Physiotherapists, Physiotherapy Assistants along with concerned Seniors and Long Term Care and Retirement Home staff rally to protest against OHIP funded physiotherapy cuts/deduction for seniors near Health Minister Deb Mathews Office in London, Ontario.