Statement from the Chair – MBS Review recommendations accepted by Government

The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce (the Taskforce) welcomes the announcement by the Australian Government that further recommendations have been accepted and will be implemented between 1 March 2020 and 1 July 2020.

Page last updated: 04 April 2019

To date, over 700 clinicians, consumers and health system experts have been involved in some 70 committees, methodically reviewing each of the more than 5,700 items on the schedule and developing a pipeline of reports and recommendations that is driving meaningful improvements to the health system.

I would like to emphasise the important changes being made to intensive care and emergency medicine items in the MBS to ensure services provided in a private setting supports the delivery of contemporary, best practice care. These changes include restructuring items that relate to Emergency Department attendance in private hospitals into three tiered base items with add-on items where additional clinical services are required.

Changes to urology services will improve quality of care, encourage high value care, reflect current clinical practice and in turn improve patient experience and safety. The changes will also tighten clinical indicators, remove obsolete items and restrict co-claiming in item descriptors to improve patient care and professional standards.

Along with the new and updated neurosurgery and neurology items being introduced, there is also a range of other changes being made. They include simplifying the MBS by consolidating neurosurgical services that are commonly done together into a single Medicare item, and increasing the patient rebate for a small number of complex brain surgery items to better reflect the complexity of the service.

In addition, updates to diagnostic imaging services that simplify the MBS and improve patient safety and quality of care by incentivising providers to use more modern, cost effective imaging equipment and clarifying co-claiming arrangements for diagnostic imaging services to ensure that inappropriate billing does not occur.

These announcements demonstrate the MBS Review is delivering on its task to improve and modernise the MBS for patients, doctors and other health providers.

I also note that in parallel to these changes, from 1 July 2020, new investment will support new payments to GPs complementing the current fee-for-service MBS model. Voluntary patient enrolment is a centrepiece of this new approach with new arrangements to establish patient enrolment and quarterly payments to GPs. This will formalise the patient-doctor relationship and better support flexible and digitally enabled access for enrolled patients.

I also welcome the responses received from stakeholders on the clinical committee and reference group reports that have recently been out for consultation. Stakeholder input is critical in shaping the MBS Review and it is integral to the processes established by the Taskforce.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the clinicians, consumers and health system experts that contributed to these recommendations. I would also like to thank the Australian Government for its continued support and trust in the Taskforce and look forward to the ongoing review process.

Media contact: Department of Health Media Unit – 02 6289 7400; news@health.gov.au

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