As economic disputes between physicians become more frequent, discussions between physicians are becoming increasingly important. Those seeking insight into how physician organizations might mediate these disputes may be able to learn from others who have had negotiating responsibilities for over a quarter of a century—the provincial medical associations in Canada. In this article we examine the structure, process, and outcomes of negotiations between physicians, with a focus on responses to new physician expenditure caps in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. Early negotiations between physicians over changes in relative fees favored general practitioners because they were the dominant voting block within the associations. Despite fewer gains in the fee arena, specialists were willing to remain in the associations because all physicians generally enjoyed similar income growth. Under new physician expenditure caps, however, physicians have been unable to resolve conflicts over how to allocate income limits across specialties. Negotiations between physicians face expanding economic issues and diverging interests as expenditure caps force physicians to concentrate on total costs.

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