TORONTO - The minority Liberals will try to reduce the fees for some surgeries as part of their plan to lower doctor salaries and manage health-care costs.
With a $16-billion deficit and soaring health-care costs, the Liberals are under pressure to find savings and rein in spending.
They say when it comes to upcoming negotiations with the province's doctors, the focus will be on "value."
That means, among other things, delisting any procedures that no longer prove as useful as once thought, as they did with Vitamin D testing.
It will also mean taking a look at reducing the cost of procedures, such a cataract surgery, which are now much faster and easier to perform because of new technology.
Most doctors get paid through a fee-for-service plan, which means they get paid for each service they perform, and cost-savings from more efficient technology aren't being passed on to the province.
A Liberal source said that's only one of various ideas on the table as negotiations get underway, but declined to provide further details, noting the government didn't want to hold those talks publicly.
The source did also point to initiatives like doctor house calls, which the Liberals say will save thousands of dollars.
Health Minister Deb Matthews hinted at the plans earlier this week during a speech to health-care providers.
"We will need to shift spending from one part of the system to another because there are areas where we're not getting best value, and other areas where new investments will generate savings elsewhere or improve quality of care," Matthews said.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has warned the government must limit spending hikes to one per cent a year until the deficit is eliminated in 2017-18.
The goal is to reduce health spending, which eats up 42 per cent of the budget, by three per cent at best, and McGuinty has also called on the province's doctors to accept a two-year pay freeze when their contract expires in March.