Labor says device sector should not be the 'whipping boy' for reform

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Shadow health minister Mark Butler says Australia's 'assessment, approval and reimbursement' processes for new medical innovations are not keeping pace with the speed of innovation.

Mr Butler addressed the annual conference of the Medical Technology Association of Australia.

The shadow minister said the medical device sector "cannot be the whipping boy" for reform of private health insurance.

The private health and medical device sectors are currently in the middle of a process under which the federal government is seeking to reform the Prostheses List.

Mark Butler committed that, if appointed health minister following the next federal election, he will get directly involved in reform discussions.

He also urged the medical device sector to involve itself in the review of health technology assessment that will be established next year as part of the federal government's new agreement with Medicines Australia.

MTAA CEO Ian Burgess said the industry remains concerned over the focus of reform on the Prostheses List. He described this as a "simplistic" and "counter-productive" approach to reform that "fails to acknowledge the broader reforms required" to ensure the ongoing attractiveness of private health insurance.

Mr Burgess said the association has proposed a major reform of the Prostheses List and that its collaborative approach is evident in its willingness to provide "highly sensitive" and "confidential pricing data" 

He contrasted this to the introduction of PBS price disclosure where confidential pricing was not provided before the adoption of a legislated decision-making framework.

Department of Health deputy secretary Penny Shakespeare said the proposed changes to the Prostheses List are in the context of wider reforms to the private health insurance sector.