This doesn’t suit any­one Gov­ern­ment’s flu shot plan could cost more: NLMA

Prov­ince eye­ing elim­i­na­tion of MCP fee code for fam­ily physi­cians

The Compass - - Sports - Steve Bartlett The Deep End BY KENN OLIVER SALTWIRE NETWORK

I’m writ­ing this col­umn im­paired.

Not by drink or drug, but by suit.

I’m wear­ing a “drunk suit,” and sud­denly imag­ine stag­ger­ing up the red car­pet at the Os­cars in it.

“Who are you wear­ing? It’s not Givenchy, is it?” Melissa Rivers (Joan’s daugh­ter) asks on be­half of mil­lions of TV view­ers as I stum­ble past. “Drunk suit by Ford!” I re­ply. “It’s … ah … ah … cer­tainly an at­ten­tion grab­ber,” Rivers says. In­deed it is.

The suit — de­vel­oped by Ford of Canada — is not the most fash­ion­able.

But nei­ther is the rea­son it ex­ists — to help curb the im­paired driv­ing epi­demic.

The suit is com­prised of an­kle and wrist weights as well as knee, el­bow, and neck ban­dages.

Plus there are head­phones that mute sound and vi­sion-im­pair­ment gog­gles that re­mind me of how things looked for much of that first year of univer­sity.

The get-up is de­signed to sim­u­late what it’s like to be un­der the in­flu­ence.

I’m try­ing to see how it in­flu­ences my abil­ity to write a col­umn.

“You have the abil­ity to write a col­umn?” one of you is un­doubt­edly won­der­ing.

To that smarty pants I say: No less than a cur­rent pres­i­dent has the abil­ity to run a coun­try.

Any­way, please don’t be of­fended by any­thing that’s been writ­ten or that fol­lows. It’s the drunk suit talk­ing. Spellink is the firt cashulty. It’s so bad this col­umn had to be more heav­ily edited than usual.

Some sam­ples of my sloshed sen­tences:

“Try­ing to write this on my iphon.”

“The longer it’s on, the drinker I feel.”

In fact, I’m suit ham­mered to the point where walk­ing is even near im­pos­si­ble.

There’s a straight line taped to the floor in front of me and I can barely get out of the chair to at­tempt strad­dling it.

It takes min­utes to get there. Once I start walk­ing, I list to the right and nar­rowly avoid crash­ing into the wall.

I imag­ine how that con­ver­sa­tion with work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion would have gone.

“Could you re­peat how you in­jured your­self, Sir?” they’d ask.

“Well, I was in a drunk suit for work and …”

I strug­gle to get back in my chair.

Once parked, I try catch­ing a ten­nis ball in my left hand. It hits the floor after two or three tosses.

This suit has im­paired my abil­ity far more than ex­pected.

Wear­ing it, or ac­tu­ally be­ing drunk, makes it pretty much use­less to try any­thing — es­pe­cially get­ting be­hind the wheel of a car, truck, SUV, mo­tor­cy­cle, go cart, etc.

So just don’t drink and drive. Do so and you could also find your­self in a suit — one you face in court and/or one you wear to a fu­neral.

Noth­ing about that. re­motely funny

If you were one of the roughly 65,000 peo­ple who re­ceived a flu shot from a fam­ily doc­tor last fall, you might have to look else­where for the pre­ven­ta­tive vac­cine this year. Based on a gov­ern­ment plan to elim­i­nate an MCP fee code for physi­cians ad­min­is­ter­ing the flu shot, the New­found­land and Labrador Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion has “grave con­cerns” for their pa­tients.

“We do have con­cerns that some of our fee-for-ser­vice fam­ily physi­cians will stop of­fer­ing vac­cines in their of­fice,” says NLMA pres­i­dent-elect Dr. Lynn Dwyer.

“Of those 65,000, half of those were specif­i­cally ad­min­is­tered un­der the spe­cific fee code that the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is now look­ing at elim­i­nat­ing.”

Dwyer says fam­ily physi­cians will still be able to pro­vide the flu shot, but it will be part of a reg­u­lar of­fice visit.

Part of gov­ern­ment’s rea­son­ing for elim­i­nat­ing the fee is to save costs, but Dwyer says it could ul­ti­mately end up cost­ing the gov­ern­ment more money in MCP billings.

“For a reg­u­lar of­fice visit a fam­ily physi­cian would ac­tu­ally bill $32. If a fam­ily physi­cian was do­ing a flu vac­cine clinic, which a lot of them do of­fer … that would be $17.

More­over, Dwyer says talks of in­creas­ing the num­ber and avail­abil­ity of clin­ics would fur­ther drive up costs.

“We are not aware that a cost anal­y­sis has been done to that ef­fect, so the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment would need to look at of­fer­ing more com­mu­nity health clin­ics both in ur­ban and ru­ral ar­eas, which would ob­vi­ously mean in­creased staffing and hours, so there would be an added cost there.”

Dur­ing a re­cent ques­tion pe­riod in the House of As­sem­bly, Min­is­ter of Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices John Hag­gie sug­gested doc­tors were es­sen­tially dou­ble billing tax­pay­ers.

“They go to their fam­ily doc­tor. The fam­ily doc­tor bills the tax­pay­ers $31. If they’re of­fered a flu shot at the same time, the fam­ily doc­tor ex­tra bills the tax­payer $17 for a ser­vice that can be pro­vided down the cor­ri­dor, free of charge, no ex­tra charge to the sys­tem,” Hag­gie said in re­sponse to a ques­tion from NDP Health and Com­mu­nity Critic Lor­raine Michaels.

PHOTO BY STEVE BARTLETT

A selfie snapped while im­paired

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