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14 May 2018


May is the busiest month in the AMA calendar. Not only does it bring the AMA National Conference and, every two years, the election of members of Federal Council and of course the President and Vice President as part of the Conference, but it also brings the Federal Budget.

When the AMA agreed in 2017 to the Federal Government’s staggered lifting of the freeze on Medicare items, we knew that it would not address the impact of the years without indexation. However, it did set a timeline for the lifting of the freeze, and as importantly, it has allowed the AMA to negotiate with the Government on many other policy areas.

By the time this edition of Australian Medicine is published we will know what is offered in the 2018 Budget. The AMA’s core areas as set out in its pre-Budget submission lodged in late 2017 include funding for primary care; reforms to private health insurance; improved medical care for the aged; support for medical workforce and training; and retention of the medical indemnity insurance schemes. The funding commitment for public hospitals has been brought forward on the COAG agenda with funding agreements now signed with all but two States.

The AMA has been involved over the past 18 months with the Private Health Ministerial Advisory Committee which has been working its way through reforms to improve the value proposition for private health insurance. The reforms incorporate standardised coverage across tiers of insurance with gold, silver, bronze, and basic benefit cover. In late April/early May the Department of Health began consulting on the definitions for the designated clinical treatment in each level of cover and it is here that the reforms become challenging. The risk is that treatment pathways could become disjointed with different treatments in the same admission falling into different levels of cover.

The AMA will continue to advocate for improvements to avoid these consequences.

Federal Council

Elections have been completed for the contested positions on Federal Council. The successful candidates are: 

Area NSW/ACT            Dr Saxon Smith

Area Qld                      Dr Shaun Rudd

Area Vic                       Dr Jill Tomlinson

Anaesthetists              Dr Andrew J Miller

Paediatricians             Dr Paul Bauert

Pathologists                Dr Beverley Rowbotham

Psychiatrists                Dr Steve Kisely

Surgeons                     Dr Owen Ung

GPs                              Dr Richard Kidd

Private specialists       Dr Julian Rait

Rural doctors               Dr Sandra Hirowatari 

These members, together with those with uncontested positions, will take up their positions on Federal Council following National Conference. The elections this year were strongly contested which shows a healthy interest in the work of your AMA. There are many opportunities for interested members to become involved through committees in their State/Territory AMA and Federal AMA.

Four directors of Australian Medical Association Limited stand down from the board at the end of May. Dr Elizabeth Feeney and Professor Geoff Dobb are not standing for a further term. Both were among the original directors following the governance reforms in 2014 and have been significant contributors to the AMA for many years. Dr Iain Dunlop and Dr Peter Sharley have been reappointed. The incoming directors are Dr Rosanna Capolingua and Dr Danielle McMullen.

The annual report of Australian Medical Association Limited is available for members to access at 2017 Annual Report. I look forward to reporting to members at the Annual General Meeting to be held in Canberra on 25 May 2018.


Published: 14 May 2018