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Chiropractic delisted in Alberta


April 9, 2009
By Maria DiDanieli

April 10, Edmonton, AB – With the proclamation of the Health Governance
Transition Act, Alberta
is announcing a number of changes to its health-care system. Among them is the
delisting of chiropractic.  Albertans will now be paying out-of-pocket for
chiropractic services, as the current subsidization of $14 per visit will soon
be discontinued.



 

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In response
to the Alberta government’s decision to
discontinue funding, Dr. Clark Mills, president of the Alberta College
and Association of Chiropractors (ACAC) said, “We are confident Albertans will
continue to value chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic, as a regulated health
profession, remains a strong and valued health care service available to
Albertans.”                                      

Although
the ACAC notes that c
hiropractic
treatment remains more than capable of relieving pressures on the increasingly
strained medical system, Alberta’s 2009 budget indicates otherwise. While allotting $12.9
billion to health and wellness spending – an increase of almost eight per cent
from last year’s health spending – the province has eliminated assistance for
chiropractic services, effective summer 2009, resulting in a maximum cost shift
to Albertans of $200 annually. Alberta will now
be one of seven provinces, including Ontario
and Quebec,
that does not fund this service.



Background
and Budget
 

In 2008, Alberta’s Health and
Wellness Minister, Ron Leipert, issued an open letter to Albertans wherein he
described the move to a new health governance model. In this model,
Alberta Health Services, an
initiative within the province’s plan for improving the health-care system,
represents the amalgamation of Alberta’s
previous regional health authorities along with a number of health-care boards.
Led by its president and chief executive officer, Dr. Stephen Duckett, the new board for Alberta Health Services was intended to
govern all health services in the province, working in partnership with Alberta
Health and Wellness, with a proposed mission to ensure that all Albertans have
equal access to health services across the province.  

However,
for chiropractic, this new governance structure did not translate into funding.
Although previously funded by Alberta Health Care, of the $7.7 billion allotted
by the province’s 2009 budget to Alberta Health Services for the delivery of
health care across the province, no allowance was made for chiropractic among
the services to receive funding.  (The remainder of the budget went to
infrastructure support for capital projects.)



Specific
plans for the Alberta Health Services spending now include:   

  •       
    full public funding for midwifery services, 
  •        
    increased coverage for cancer therapy drugs and the initiation of
    the Alberta Rare Diseases Drug Program,
     
  • ·       
    increased funding to support physician compensation, on-call
    programs, office computerization, primary care and Academic Alternate Relationship Plans. The increase gives Alberta
    physicians the highest overall compensation program in Canada,
     
  •         
    increased funding to grow numbers of medical residents and
    increase their compensation,
     
  •         
    the transfer of EMS services from
    municipalities to governance by the province
     
  • ·       
    Chiropractic, in the province, has been delisted
    from receiving public funding.



ACAC
Response to Delisting

     An organized
and concentrated effort to stave off this decision was coordinated by the ACAC.
Over sixty meetings with Alberta MLAs were held to discuss the value of
chiropractic services to Albertans and to provide current research studies on
the cost and clinical efficacy of chiropractic in a health system. As well, it
is estimated that tens of thousands of letters from Albertans were sent to the
Minister of Health protesting the proposed cuts to funding.

     Says Mills,
“In facing a global
recession, the government had to make some difficult choices – we understand
the decision to delist chiropractic was solely budget driven. Our patients and
our profession have appreciated the nominal funding for chiropractic services
provided to date. The chiropractic profession looks forward to continuing a
strong relationship with the government to help serve the health-care needs of
Albertans.” 

     The ACAC regulates the
chiropractic profession in Alberta
under the Health Professions Act and
is committed to protecting the public, ensuring accountability and improving
Albertans' health and well-being. There are currently more than 900 licensed
chiropractors in Alberta
providing care to almost one million patients per year. In Alberta, chiropractic
services are reported to have received the highest rating for access, and the
second highest rating for patient satisfaction in the 2006 Health Quality
Council of Alberta survey. 

     “Chiropractic still
retains the strongest clinical and cost-effective outcomes with the Workman’s
Compensation Board (WCB) and we anticipate a similar outcome in the insurance
industry with MVA injuries,” says Dr. Mills. 

     In short, despite having been eliminated from the
scope of provincial funding, Dr. Mills maintains, “Chiropractic remains an
integral player in supporting Albertans’ health and wellness needs.”