The Federal Government and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have agreed to co-design administrative processes for implementing upcoming changes to Medicare and allow patients the time for informed financial consent.
The MBS Review Taskforce has overseen the most comprehensive review of Medicare since it began, with the aim of modernising the system and supporting reinvestment of savings into new and amended items.
The taskforce has delivered more than 60 reports across many health fields, outlining almost 1,400 recommendations to the government. This includes 19 recommendations for ophthalmology items, and 11 for optometry, which have gone through consultation processes are now under government consideration.
In reaching the agreement, the government and AMA state that they recognise some changes are complex and require additional time to flow through systems to support high quality patient care and informed financial consent.
It also comes as the MBS review process, which commenced in 2015, now shifts to a more ‘business-as-usual’ footing, embedding a new continuous review of the schedule as recommended by the taskforce, led by Professor Bruce Robinson.
The Federal Government committed $17.3 million in this year’s budget to implement this continuous review mechanism. This includes a new commitment to rapid post-implementation monitoring to ensure changes are delivering improved patient outcomes.
Federal Health Minister Mr Greg Hunt said the government would continue to work with the health insurance and hospital sectors to implement improvements to administrative processes to allow time for all patients to have informed financial consent, including insurance rebates, before their procedures. It would also monitoring the flow on effects of changes to health funds to ensure access remains affordable.
“We will continue to expand the Out of Pocket Costs website, which was first established in 2018, to further support patient choice and informed financial consent, including information about specialist medical fees and information about the private health insurance rebates that are available for procedures featured in the website,” he said.
AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said the organisation supported the MBS review process and welcomed the commitment by government to work on changes to the MBS review process to give additional time between public notice of the items and implementation.
“The goal of these changes is to ensure that while changing the MBS, we provide all the information a patient and a doctor need about Medicare and insurer rebates to provide informed financial consent,” he said.
“We will begin the co-design process after 1 July following implementation of the latest changes.”