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AMA: Govt 'attacks' Medicare and integrity of doctors

29 September, 2015

AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said today that the Government has undermined its own Review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) by launching a political attack on Medicare and the integrity of doctors.

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 Health Minister Ley has overnight 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," 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 items, removing those that are no longer used in practice, and introducing new items 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 members 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 system to guide the final outcomes of the reviews;
  • specific and quantifiable aims;
  • the direct involvement of specialist colleges, associations and societies;
  • full transparency of the individual reviews as they progress and the decisions that will come from them; and
  • new items are able to be added to the MBS.

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