Opinion article by Dr. Conrad Sichler, Dr. Chase McMurren and Dr. Arieg Badawi, Special to the National Post
Ontario is in a mental-health crisis: An important opinion piece was published on June 1, 2021 in the National Post and ten other Ontario newspapers discussing concerning issues that could compromise the ongoing provision of physician-delivered psychotherapy – and the steps to be taken to ensure that this essential OHIP-funded service remains accessible.
Please urgently share this link on your social media accounts to ensure that GP psychotherapy gets the public awareness that it deserves.
Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix commented: “I applaud Drs Sichler, McMurran and Badawa for highlighting the pandemic Ontario billing fee code debacle affecting the current and future treatment of our mental health patients by GP psychotherapists (Opinion, June 1, 2021). As a GP psychotherapist focused on group therapy in Mindfulness for those suffering chronic pain, I and other GP group psychotherapists were horrified by the restrictions placed on us by the pandemic fee codes. We too cannot use the Ontario telemedicine network for our evidence-based work because of its poor functionality and access. Imagine working with 12 patients in group therapy for 12 weekly sessions through Zoom, using a “catch all” billing code designed for working with one patient only, since March 2020! Availability of Mindfulness courses, that are so effective, and cost-effective, as an adjunct to medical treatments, is shrinking. Group therapists are also threatened by losing our psychotherapy designation, as the K082 code is invisible in the Ontario fee code system to attest to our continuing practice subspecialty and protect physician colleagues from financial penalty when they refer patients to us. Government negotiators meeting with our representatives at the Ontario Medical Association are not hearing us, despite our efforts to communicate this dilemma. Does the mental health of our patients matter this little when there are about to be huge mental health consequences from the pandemic?”
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