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First-rate Defence personnel getting second-rate health service coordination

04 Sep 2013

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, today called on the next Government to commission an urgent audit into the coordination of the delivery of health services to Australian Defence Force personnel by Medibank Health Solutions (MHS).

The call comes amid reports that doctors are experiencing long delays in receiving payment for providing quality off-base care to defence personnel.

The Government announced in February this year that all Defence Health services had been transferred to MHS, with the transition process having been underway since October 2012

Dr Hambleton said that a major AMA survey last year showed that many specialists across the country had refused to sign up to the arrangements being put in place by MHS for the provision of off-base medical services.

“We are concerned that first-rate defence personnel are being provided with second-rate coordination of their health services,” Dr Hambleton said.

“It is our understanding that MHS still faces problems in arranging access to off-base specialist services, particularly in areas where major defence facilities are located such as Canberra, Darwin, Townsville and the South Coast of New South Wales.

“We are told that MHS has been forced to use non-contracted specialists as a result.

“It has now emerged that many doctors are not being paid for the provision of services to ADF personnel in a timely fashion.

“The best way to sort out this mess – and deliver to our defence personnel the health services they deserve – is for the new Government to next week call an audit into the MHS operations,” Dr Hambleton said.

Despite MHS coordinating appointments for ADF personnel with medical specialists, MHS is insisting on further evidence to be included on invoices and, since August 1, it has been returning many invoices to doctors and other health professionals unpaid.  According to MHS, as at the end of July, around half of health professionals were submitting “non compliant” invoices.

Dr Hambleton said that MHS has made no effort to work with organisations like the AMA to communicate this issue to the medical profession.

“Many doctors have already been disenfranchised by the contracting arrangements put in place by MHS and it is our valued service personnel who suffer as a result.”

4 September 2013

CONTACT:         John Flannery                       02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761
                          Kirsty Waterford                    02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

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Published: 04 Sep 2013