Medicare findings support need for continuing review
The scope and complexity of the latest proposed changes to treatments which Medicare covers highlight the importance of continuing review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule, the Consumers Health Forum says.
The 38 major recommendations of the MBS Review Taskforce that have been accepted by the Government impact on a wide range of treatments including dialysis for Indigenous patients in remote regions, breast cancer scans, and capsule (or ‘pill cam’) endoscopy.
CHF has strongly supported the work of MBS Review Taskforce chaired by Professor Bruce Robinson as a means of ensuring Australians benefit from best available medical care.
“As CHF’s recent Out of Pocket Pain survey illustrated, many people and particularly those with private insurance are facing ever increasing costs not covered by Medicare or insurance,” CHF spokesman, Mark Metherell, said.
“This has underlined the need for the health system to ensure that we have cost-effective health services that are accessible to all Australians.
“One of the frequently mentioned areas in our survey where costs impacted heavily on patients, was diagnostic imaging for breast cancer patients. It is to be hoped that the changes to benefits for high resolution imaging of breast conditions will help ease those costs for patients.
“While we support the work of the review we question the fairness of a new restriction on requests for knee MRIs for patients over 50. While there may be some justification for discouraging over-use of this expensive procedure, it will put many older people to the additional expense of having to consult a specialist in order to get a referral.
“The renewed concern among GPs about the long term impact of the freeze on Medicare benefits for patients’ access to the care they need again highlights the challenge facing government in funding the level of health care people reasonably expect.
“Opinion polling continues to show that people would like to see funding priority given to health services. One of the ways we can ensure continuing high quality care is to continue with the reviews of what Medicare should pay for,” Mr Metherell said.