The Report from Anaesthesia Clinical Committee (ACC) of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce 2017 has just been released by the Australian Federal Department of Health.
For almost 2 years now, the ASA has held extensive and constructive discussions with the Federal Department of Health and the Federal Government to ensure that any changes to the Anaesthesia MBS would not disadvantage vulnerable patients, would provide value for money, and would enable affordable and universal access to medical care.
A highly effective ASA Anaesthesia MBS Review Working Group was established in 2017. By collaboration with other key ASA personnel, ANZCA, and academic institutions, and with strong support from the AMA, there has been an extraordinary commitment in the struggle to preserve an Anaesthesia MBS which has served extremely well the Australian public and healthcare sector since it was introduced in 2001. Far in excess of 2000 cumulative hours have been clocked up, especially during the past 20 months, including around 3000 emails, not to mention phone calls, teleconferences, meetings, and visits to and from Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
The ASA has significant concerns with the following key aspects of the majority of the recommendations by the ACC:
The ASA agrees with 19 recommendations contained within the ACC Report. Implementation of these 19 proposals will balance the need to achieve the goals of the MBS Review, whilst protecting those patient groups at risk of being imposed with an added and unfair financial burden, achieving individualised care and preserving the integrity of the great and indispensable specialty of anaesthesia in Australia.
Our committed efforts and co-operation with the Federal Department and Government in providing comprehensive responses to the ACC Report, has resulted in greater understanding of the unique issues of anaesthesia, and the importance of maintaining the current Anaesthesia MBS. As such, we believe that a small number of items will be accepted by the Government for a pending budgetary review.
Finally and importantly, as a result of the ASA’s ongoing advocacy and determination, a future framework for the ongoing Anaesthesia MBS has been advanced. An ALG, with strong ASA involvement, will be working with the Department for all future changes to, and stewardship of, the Anaesthesia MBS.
Dr Peter Seal