Government accepts latest recommendations from Medicare Review Taskforce

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The federal government has accepted 38 new recommendations from the ongoing MBS Review Taskforce.

The Taskforce was established in 2015 to examine all the items listed on the MBS and recommend changes to align services with contemporary, evidence-based medical practice. 

The government has previously accepted a range of recommendations, including changes to post-surgery attendance, gastroenterology, obstetric, ear, nose and throat services, as well as bone mineral density tests, colonoscopy and rebates for some GP services. 

The new recommendations accepted by health minister Greg Hunt include changes to MBS items for spinal surgery to reflect contemporary surgical practice.

According to Private Healthcare Australia, the changes will ensure patients receive rebates for spinal surgery services that are clinically appropriate and reflect modern clinical practice.

Other accepted recommendations include limiting the ability of GPs to request knee MRIs for patients over 50 years. This change is designed to reduce unnecessary MRIs. Specialists will still be able to request knee MRIs for all patients. Another change is designed to end the clinically unnecessary and painful removal of skin lesions.

Private Healthcare Australia CEO, Dr Rachel David, said the changes represent an endorsement of evidence-based healthcare that will lead to better health outcomes and value for consumers.

“The PHI industry has long supported this clinician-led review which makes recommendations to the Government on how the MBS can be modernised to improve patient outcomes, safety and reduce waste,” said Dr David.

“Health funds want to ensure their members are getting value for money and to reassure them their premiums are not being spent on low value treatment.

“The more low-value tests and treatments are eliminated, the easier it will be to keep downward pressure on premiums, and invest members’ funds in procedures which really work.

“Under legislation health funds are obliged to pay for medical treatments covered by the MBS. This Review will not only highlight the importance of clinical best practice and improve patient care, but importantly reduce waste across the health system," added Dr David.