Government waiting for advice on non-implantable devices

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Government expects to receive advice on whether to include non-implantable medical devices on the Prostheses List this year.

In a response to a question from a Senate committee, the Department of Health said the Prostheses List Advisory Committee (PLAC) has already commenced reviewing the criteria for listing devices on the Prostheses List. It said this will include discussion of devices that do not currently meet the current criteria for listing, such as cardiac pressure wires, drug eluting balloon catheters and cardiac ablation catheters.

The inclusion of cardiac ablation catheters has been a significant focus of discussions between policy-makers, medical device companies, insurers and patient groups.

Catheter ablation involves the use of a non-implantable medical device. As a non-implantable device, with the catheter removed from the body after the procedure, it does not meet the criteria for inclusion on government's Prostheses List. Inclusion would compel private health insurers to fund the procedure.

Some insurers cover catheter ablation despite the fact it is not included on the Prostheses List.

Patients groups were angered by the government's decision not to make changes to the criteria for listing devices on the Prostheses List as part of last year's reform announcement that included cuts to the pricing of prostheses.

Consideration of its inclusion, through the review of the Prostheses List, was included in the strategic agreement between government and the Medical Technology Association of Australia.

In October, after the reform announcement, Coalition and Labor MPs combined in federal parliament to pass a motion calling for the inclusion of catheter ablation on the Prosthesis List to be fast-tracked.