AMA and opposition attack govt’s ‘undermining’ of MBS review

The president of the Australian Medical Association, Professor Brian Owler, has attacked the federal government for “undermining” its own Review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule by its launching of a “political attack” on Medicare and the integrity of medical practitioners, saying it is an “attack on the integrity of Medicare and the medical profession”.
And the Labor opposition has slammed the??review, labeling it “deeply alarming” and saying it may see??restrictions placed on medical tests and procedures.
The MBS sets out the services subsidised by the federal government under the Medicare program. About 5700 medical services subsidised by the MBS will be assessed in the review.
In response to the criticism, health minister Ms Sussan Ley said on 27 Septber that many of the services are “out-of-date or even harmful” and that since the MBS was implented in 1984, about 70 per cent of the its covered have not changed.
A spokesman for the minister confirmed to Insight that the review would include all medical and optometrical services and that there would be seven committees examining the Medicare its.
The three biggest health funds in the nation – Medibank Private, NIB and Bupa – have backed the review, saying the health-care syst is plagued by ineffective and unnecessary medical procedures and “desperately” needs reform.
Addressing a press conference on 26 Septber, Prof Owler said the AMA had been very supportive of an MBS Review process that was clinician-led, and which had no preconceptions about the use or misuse of medical services, but the health minister, Ms Sussan Ley, had launched an attack on the medical profession.
“We are deeply disappointed that the government has launched an attack on Medicare and the integrity of doctors in its rush to cut health funding and services,” Prof Owler said.
“The prime minister and the health minister have today lost the goodwill and support of the medical profession in our shared goal of a modern MBS, which means reviewing its, roving those that are no longer used in practice, and introducing new its to provide patient rebates for modern medical practice.
“Instead, the government has revealed its true intentions to cut health services and cut health funding – and publicly attack the medical profession.
“It is outrageous for the minister to claim that doctors would deliberately conduct tests only for financial gain and without consideration of what is best for the patient. This is a slur on all doctors.
“It is not acceptable for the minister to tell us one thing in private, then go in a different direction with her public comments.
“Rather than continue with a review based on consultation with clinicians, the minister has now chosen to follow a consumer-driven process, which will endanger the trust and respect of the doctor-patient relationship – the foundation of quality health care.
“And it is wrong for the minister to push responsibility for the new direction of the MBS Review on to the mbers of the taskforce – this is totally the responsibility of the government.
“For the review to be clinician-led and the MBS to support quality patient care, there must be:
– A clear and overarching vision and specific direction for the Australian healthcare syst to guide the final outcomes of the reviews;
– Specific and quantifiable aims;
– The direct involvent of specialist colleges, associations and societies;
– Full transparency of the individual reviews as they progress and the decisions that will come from th; and
– New its able to be added to the MBS.

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