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Ontario and its doctors reach virtual care billing deal

Ontario has reached a deal with doctors related to unintended consequences of the province’s new virtual care program.

The Ontario Medical Association says in a note to doctors that specialists who treat patients virtually will not have their fees for virtual appointments slashed on Dec. 1.

The province is set to introduce a number of permanent changes to its virtual care program that would see the fee paid to doctors cut to $15 from $37 per patient visit.

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Addictions doctors across the province recently received a deal sparing them of cuts to a $15 bonus on top of the $37 fee _ they had warned that the cuts could have seen upwards of 50,000 patients on opioid agonist therapy lose access to treatment unless they went in person.

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The Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under the previous proposed changes to virtual care, patients would have had to see a doctor once in person in a two-year period in order for the doctor to receive the same rate for subsequent remote visits.

The OMA had challenged the changes, saying it would have disproportionately affected Indigenous people on First Nations, patients in rural and remote areas and people with disabilities when it came to access to specialists and focused general practitioners.

Under the new deal, patients can continue to get virtual care from those doctors without an in-person visit so long as a consultation, which can be done remotely, is done every 24 months.

The medical association says the province will not negotiate anymore on other unintended consequences of the virtual care program.

&copy 2022 The Canadian Press

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