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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 8, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta IS THE IETHBXIDCE HHAID THurtday, October I, No-Holds-Barred Battle Looms In Medical Rift QUEBEC (CP) The Quebec government has made some la minute concessionsinth smouldering medical care di pute as Premier Robert Boura sa's deadline of Nov. 1 for im plementation of the program a] preaches. However, indications Tuesda were that if the medicare pla is put into effect following special session of the nations assembly Monday, a no-hold barred battle will break out be- tween the province's med cal specialists and the Libera government. The Quebec Federation Medical Specialists has threai ened to withdraw all but emer gency services if medicare made effective before the gov eminent make the changes it is demanding. Premier Bourassa, while sta' ing that the doctors have ever right to oppose the plan, warn that the government will tak any action it thinks necessary t protect (lie public in the even of an emergency. In announcing two possibli modifications to the plan am the special national assembly session to discuss them and im plementation, the premier told a news conference that up-to-date reports on specialists' absentee rates at Quebec hospitals di< not indicate the immediate neec for a law ordering the special ists to maintain normal serv ices. It has been said, however that in the event of a genera strike by specialists the govern ment could enact emergency back-to-work legislation similar to that passed Oct. 7 to order an end to the Montreal police walk- out. TALKS STOP Mr. Bourassa's announcemenl came 11 days after the break- down in talks between the feder- ation and the government. In that time relations between the two parties have deterio- rated to the point of outright hostility. At a health committee meeting Friday, an angry ex- change between the premier and two specialists' spokesmen dramatized the situation. It came after the federation representatives refused three times to answer the premier's request to "clarify" a statement they had presented. "Did you became deaf and dumb the moment you finished reading your shouted Mr. Bourassa. "We are not deaf, because we can hear federation law- yer Raymond Lachapelle re- plied. "We will make our an- swer." The premier said then that he was "astonished and ex- tremely disappointed" by what he called "a refusal to engage in a dialogue." INSIGNIFICANT CHANGE Mr. Bourassa's latest attempt to approach agreement in the proposal Tuesday of modifications or "improve- ments" in the de- scribed later by the federation as "not significant." Federation president Dr. Ray- mond Robillard raid in a brief CBC television interview Tues- day night that he did not consi- der that the proposed changes altered the government position on withdrawal and payment its plan. He declined forth comment. A federation new conference was scheduled f today. Passed July 10, the Health I surance Act is designed, th government says, to make to quality medical service avail ble to all Quebecers at equ costs. The specialists' federatio which groups 22 associations representing disciplines such a pediatrics, cardiology, anesth siology, dematology and neuro ogy, says quality medicine wi die with medicare in its presen form. The federation represents per cent of Quebec's doctor while the Federation of Genen Practitioners make up the othe The GPs have not voice public opposition to medicar although some specialists hav PREMIER BOURASSA Warns Doctors aid they are letting them do the dirty work. Main issues of contention in lie dispute are sections of the ilan dealing with withdrawal 01 services, fee scales and control of the quality of services. The plan now stipulates thai latients patronizing doctors wht lave opted out must pay the bil ithout remuneration from the tealth Insurance Board which will administer the plan. A proposed modification to lis of Mr. Bouras- a's allow octors to opt out but still re- trict them to the government ee scale. Opted-out specialists would charge the patient di- ectly, instead of filing for pay. nent from the insurance board, The patient would make the laim. The specialists want to exceed the plan's fee scale, which they onsider too low. Under the ex- sting legislation, patients would robably seek opted-in doctors, nee medicare would pay their ills. If the modification is dopted, the specialists will still tied down to government ates unless they can find pa- ents who are willing to pay the hole shot. Medicare schemes adopted In x other provinces do not have these restrictions. Neither do rivate insurance plans. Intertwined with the with- rawal restriction and accen- lating it, the specialists say, is Govt. Orders Legal Action OTTAWA