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17 Apr 2019

LETTER TO MEMBERS FROM THE PRESIDENT

Dear Colleague,

As you well know, the Government and the Department of Health have been leading the Review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) now for almost four years, with over 80 clinical committees and working groups reviewing all 5,700 items - the majority of which have not been reviewed in decades.

The MBS Review Taskforce has released 55 Clinical Committee reports to date, and the AMA has been active in calling for the review to be a fair and transparent process - not simply a savings exercise. The AMA has been working behind the scenes, and sometimes in a more visible fashion, with craft groups, our members and the broader medical profession to provide responses to these reports.

It is in that vein I wish to draw your attention to one key MBS Review report, released in February. It is the report from the Specialist and Consultant Physicians Consultation Clinical Committee - available at (http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mbs-review-2018-taskforce-reports-cp/$File/SCPCCC%20Report.pdf). This report proposes major reforms, cutting across all specialties, as it recommends a comprehensive restructure of specialist and consultant physician attendance items. The Report proposes a move away from initial and subsequent consultations, differential rebates for specialists and consultant physicians and additional payments for complex planning, to a time-based structure similar to that applied in general practice.

Other recommendations are no less significant and include:

  • Removing current telehealth loading and complex care plan items and a move to time tiering
  • A new framework for case conferences
  • National minimum data set to inform patients of:
    • Clinical practice variation between institutions and individual provider
    • Providers’ out of pocket fees (shared via patient’s GP)
    • Providers’ clinical outcomes data (shared via patient’s GP)
  • Use of item descriptors & CPD education to improve informed financial consent
  • My Health Record incentive payments to increase uptake and use

These recommendations have the potential to impact not just specialists and consultant physicians, but also their patients.

The AMA has had the opportunity to attend one consultation with the MBS Taskforce and key craft groups regarding this report, but it was clear the message about this report must be spread further.

The report will require a response from all concerned clinicians. Please feel free to respond directly to the Department, here. I also implore you to bring this report to the attention of your relevant College, Association and Society. Such critical proposed reforms need all voices to be heard. As always, please feel free to provide your feedback to the AMA, as well your craft group.

In the meantime the AMA will continue to advocate for greater time to be given to the profession to respond to such a far reaching report.

Kind Regards,

Tony Bartone
President


Published: 17 Apr 2019