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A 2009 cataract surgery at Victoria's Royal Jubilee Hospital.

The Globe and Mail

As was reported in today's Globe and Mail, a decade ago, just 10 doctors in Ontario billed taxpayers more than $1-million. That number swelled to 259 doctors who charged the Ontario Health Insurance Plan $1-million or more in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009, including a disproportionately large number of ophthalmologists, according to information obtained under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

In Ontario, the growing ranks of the $1-million-plus club reveal that the McGuinty government has solved one problem and created another. Health-care experts say the fee structure for doctors has not kept pace with technological advances that have reduced cataract surgery time by more than half over the past two decades.

As Jeff Turnbull, president of the Canadian Medical Association, says: "I think there's a need for us to have alignment throughout our health-care system to ensure that the right type of activities are rewarded appropriately and that we don't have perverse incentives or disincentives."

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Revelations about the top OHIP billers come at an awkward time for Premier Dalton McGuinty. His Liberal government is calling on labour leaders to impose wage freezes for two years on nurses, doctors, teachers and other public-sector workers who bargain collectively.

The reporters behind the story were online earlier to discuss the issue and take your questions.

Karen Howlett, who worked on today's story with Lisa Priest, has been covering Ontario politics for the past five years at The Globe's Queen's Park Bureau.

Prior to that, she was a business reporter at The Globe, where she led teams of reporters nominated for two Michener awards.

Lisa Priest has been reporting on health issues for almost two decades. Her breast cancer series in 2005 won The Globe and Mail a Michener Award for public service journalism. She is also the author of three books.

Mobile users can click here to follow the discussion.



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