In the age of accountability, being careful about your spending gets interesting when you don’t know much you will have to spend.
Each provincial budget usually gives some indication of what to expect in the coming years, so while this year’s offering is not expected until May 2nd, it is likely that hospital administrators are already planning (and worrying) none-the-less.
Prognostication is not always an exact science. When the Drummond Commission recommended restraining health care to 2.5 per cent, few expected the government to exceed that in last year’s budget. Instead Finance Minister Dwight Duncan delivered a 2012-13 budget that gave health care 2.45 per cent with promises of an average of 2.1 per cent over three years. If hospital administrators started doing back of the envelope calculations with those disappointing numbers, they may have been rudely surprised to find hospital base budgets were singled out for no increase from that money – not even a modest crumb to cover inflation, aging or population growth.
April 1st marks the beginning of a new fiscal year. Usually hospitals have a good idea what they are to receive by this point, even if much of the community sector ends up waiting months more to get their dollars confirmed.
There likely isn’t a hospital administrator who is counting on more than zero, so how much the LHINs have available for separately funded surgical volumes really starts to matter.
The Ministry of Health has yet to determine how much it is going to spend on quality-based procedures (QBP), another of Deb Matthews’ Orwellian terms for what is effectively fee-for-service for select procedures.