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MBS review Report – GPs scrutinised once again

Once again GPs and MBS billing are being scrutinised by the federal government. On 6 September 2016 Health Minister Sussan Ley released the MBS review Interim report and GPs are once again the hot topic. The MBS has not been reviewed for 30 years, so a review was well overdue. But what is this interim report actually saying?

In recent years the use of MBS items has grown at a substantial rate, higher than the population growth which makes the government believe that MBS items are being billed when they are unnecessary and doctors are not providing high value services. The Review Taskforce can choose to change, erase or create new MBS items.

The MBS item cost blow out is one of the reasons we have the current Medicare freeze, we can only hope that the government will see the sense to end this freeze now. The report indicates that  GP consultations were one of the main cost drivers in health. We disagree – GPs are the basis of our Medical system and are a crucial element to health care for Australians.

The main issues to take out of this interim review are:

  • Routine and administrative consultations – The report indicates that consultations for repeat prescriptions, test results and renewing referrals are viewed by Health Practitioners as a waste of time and resources for General Practice as they are low value consultations. This may prompt changes to use way patients obtain these. The review noted that emails and text messages may be a better way of providing results to patients. The AMA president has now stated to that he disagrees with this insinuation. While consumers were positive in regards to GP consultations.
  • The review recommends abolishing MBS item duplicates, where two items exist for one service depending on the doctor or specialist who is providing the service. The review recommends one fixed price.
  • The Review indicated that stakeholders were unhappy with gatekeeping functions of GPs such as referrals to psychologists or other specialities
  • The review also noted comments that the current MBS item structure encourages GPs to see more patients within an hour for short quick consultations
  • Item numbers 721, 723 are abused as they are high dollar value items

While there are some valid points within this report we do believe that the conversation needs to be more open and should be focused on assisting General Practice as the backbone of the Australian medical system rather than cutting GPs out of their patient’s healthcare treatment.

To access the Interim report, please visit:$File/MBS-Review-Interim-report-Final-%204%20Oct.pdf

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