MBS Review Statement from the Chair

Page last updated: 29 April 2018

PDF printable version of MBS Review Statement from the Chair (PDF 229 KB)

29 April

Latest recommendations accepted by Government

The work of updating the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to ensure a contemporary, evidence-based schedule continues to progress, with the Australian Government’s response to the latest package of recommendations from the MBS Review Taskforce.
As Chair of the Taskforce, I am pleased that the Government has accepted 38 major recommendations in full, and accepted two others in part. All of the changes will improve patient care, help modernise the MBS, improve the MBS’s focus on clinical best practice, and provide greater value for money for patients, providers and the health system.

The changes to the MBS are in the areas of:
  • dermatology, allergy and immunology
  • knee imaging
  • endocrinology
  • renal medicine
  • spinal surgery
  • thoracic medicine
  • breast tomosynthesis
  • capsule endoscopy.
They include:
  • A new item to support the delivery of dialysis in very remote areas to improve access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with kidney disease;
  • A new item to enable access to three dimensional breast tomosynthesis – a form of high resolution imaging – as an interim measure while an application for long-term funding is considered by the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).
  • Improved diagnosis of asthma in general practice through changes to spirometry items to encourage greater use of spirometry tests and support;
  • Changes to allergen testing to improve the diagnoses of allergens in line with modern clinical guidelines;
  • New restrictions to ensure patients aren’t being exposed to excessive radiation when undergoing phototherapy;
  • Amendments ensure patients aren’t undergoing painful procedures to have skin lesions removed when it isn’t clinically necessary;
  • New restrictions on requesting knee MRIs to ensure patients genuinely receive the tests they need;
  • A modernised spinal surgery schedule that reflects contemporary surgical practice; and
  • A new fee for capsule endoscopy items to fairly remunerate providers for this service.
A further two recommendations in relation to restructuring spinal surgery items were accepted in part, to allow the Government to clarify that spinal fusion must not be performed or claimed for treatment of uncomplicated axial chronic lower back pain. The Taskforce welcomes this clarification, noting this change is in line with Choosing Wisely Australia’s recommendations in this area.

The Government’s acceptance of these recommendations represents the latest in a number of major reforms recommended by the MBS Review Taskforce. To date, the Government has accepted 88 recommendations either in full or in part, with a strong pipeline of recommendations forthcoming.

Over 500 clinicians, consumers and health system experts have been involved in the MBS Review and participated in its some 65 clinical committees and working groups. I want to thank the clinical committees for their most important and excellent work, which is making a real difference in ensuring the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the MBS. I also thank the Australian Government for its continued support and trust in the Taskforce and look forward to continuing this important review process.

The new MBS items will be introduced from 1 November 2018. Greater detail on all changes will be provided to the profession and on MBS Online before this date.

More information on this package of changes can be found on the Department of Health website.

Media contact: Kay McNiece – 0448 207 226; news@health.gov.au