TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 18, 2013) - Ontario's providers of OHIP physiotherapy today decried the delisting of the services provided to Ontario's seniors, children, disabled persons and those on social assistance. Health Minister Deb Matthews made the announcement this morning while suggesting some services would still be available but delivered and paid for through alternate means such as Local Health Integration Networks (LHINS) and Community Care Access Centres (CCACs).
"Our members are shocked to hear this news. We were notified yesterday of the government's intentions after three years of little to no communication from the Ministry," said Tony Melles, Executive Director of the Designated Physiotherapy Clinics' Association (DPCA). The 94 DPCA member clinics have been providing Ontario's most vulnerable citizens with physiotherapy since 1963, the birth of Medicare. "This is clearly a cut to service. The government will now spend a total of $156 million on physiotherapy a drastic cut relative to the over $200 million the government currently spends on OHIP physiotherapy," said Melles.
The DPCA has presented the government with several policy proposals to spread existing funding further and to take advantage of DPCA members' investments into infrastructure and physiotherapy staff across the entire province. There has been no feedback on those proposals until this announcement and the answers appears to be "no".
The greatest changes from today's announcement include a significant reduction in available physiotherapy treatments for seniors in long-term care and to in-home services for seniors unable to take themselves to clinics. A small portion of the savings from these reductions will be spent via CCACs and new clinics in regions of the province that are in need of service.
"The DPCA is determined to ensure seniors that receive needed care that keeps them mobile, prevents falls and emergency room visits are not hurt by these reductions in service," said Melles. "We will work very hard at the table with government to ensure the changes announced today maintain today's spending levels, do not cause disruption for our seniors and disabled persons, and that new services reaching underserviced geographic areas are not hampered by the insistence on using expensive and unnecessary bureaucracy that absorbs much of the shifted funding."
The government is placing at risk nearly 100 clinics that employ more than 3,000 physiotherapists and assistants and administer care to hundreds of thousands of Ontario's most vulnerable patients in clinics, long-term care and in-home settings. They are also the lowest cost provider of quality care in the system by a substantial margin with a rate charged to government of $12.20 per treatment that has not changed since 1991.
"This government delisted OHIP physiotherapy once before on the advice of the same bureaucrats that are trying to do it again," added Melles. "The government's own materials betray their lack of understanding of how we deliver services in long-term care. We will fight to ensure the remaining funding is spent most effectively with the best outcomes for patients. It's hard to be confident in that when it will go through LHINs and CCACs rather than directly to front-line care.
"In their rush to eliminate OHIP physiotherapy they are trying to spin that a thimbleful of care for many more seniors is better than quality care for those that need it most."