Hunt: Get the definitions right

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Health minister Greg Hunt says a key focus of reform of the Prostheses List will be new a definition for what constitutes a medical device.

Speaking at events in parliament house this week, including the launch of a new report commissioned by patient group hearts4heart which called for the inclusion of catheter ablation on the Prostheses List, Mr Hunt said outdated definitions across a number of areas needed to be updated.

He said he had asked key advisory groups to work together on new definitions, including what constitues a medical device, to ensure decision-making kept up with and reflected the latest innovation in medical technology.

Mr Hunt said the committees responsible for advising on Medicare (Medical Services Advisory Committee), the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Commitee) and prostheses (Prostheses List Advisory Committee), will work together to develop the new definitions.

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.

Any change in the definition of what constitutes a medical device is expected to be accompanied by further pricing reform.

Mr Hunt also said that, while this year's average premium increase was the lowest in ten years, government was working with the sector on long-term solutions to the affordability of private health insurance.