A think-tank says the New Brunswick government needs to dedicate more resources to understanding and fixing the funding problems plaguing public health care.

However, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a right-leaning think-tank based in Halifax, says it would be politically difficult for the government to commit the resources that are needed.

The acting president of the institute, Charles Cirtwill, said it would be hard for the health minister to spend large amounts of money on research, especially if the public believes the money could be better spend on health-care delivery.

But Cirtwill said that’s exactly what needs to happen before the province starts talking about reforming the health-care system.

The government spent $2.1 billion of its $6.6-billion budget last year on health care, and even with an increase to their funding, the province’s eight health authorities are expected to post $55 million in deficits this year.

Health Minister Mike Murphy has said the province can’t afford to continue increasing the health budget at the same rate, and he said he’s open to looking at new ways to fund health care. One way that’s been suggested is patient-focused funding, which would tie government funding to the number of patients and the type of procedures performed.

Under a mixed patient-focused funding model — also known as volume-based, or fee-for-service funding — health authorities would only be given a portion of their annual budgets at the start of the year.