Mark Butler says review highlights the need for action to protect Medicare

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The AMA says a new analysis "puts to bed" recent claims $8 billion is being inappropriately claimed from Medicare while health minister Mark Butler has released the findings of an independent review.

According to the association, the analysis has found that underbilling of Medicare saved the health system more than $350 million annually.

The claim of extensive and chronic over-claiming received widespread attention leading to health minister Mark Butler commissioning a review of Medicare 'integrity'.

The review, led by Dr Pradeep Philip, has found that $1.5 to $3 billion annually is lost primarily due to billing errors rather than premeditated fraud. Dr Philip has attributed the errors to the program's complexity and an outdated billing system.

In a statement, health minister Mark Butler said the review makes clear that the overwhelming majority of health practitioners are well-meaning and protective of Medicare and provide a high level of care to their patients.

"Dr Philip also found no evidence to support the $8 billion figure highlighted in some media reporting.

"The Review found that the likely cost to Australian taxpayers is $1.5 to $3 billion a year, with a significant part stemming from non-compliance errors rather than premeditated fraud. But without concerted action this figure could increase."

“The former government was given five separate reviews, including from the Australian National Audit Office, that told them billions of dollars in taxpayer money was being lost each year. They failed to act to protect Medicare," said Mr Butler.

“Australians know that the overwhelming majority of our doctors and health professionals are honest, hardworking and comply with Medicare rules.

“But they also understand that, at a time of great pressure on household and Government budgets, every dollar in Medicare is precious and must be spent directly on patient care.

“Strengthening Medicare also means safeguarding the taxpayer funds that underpin it and this Government is committed to that task.

“I thank Dr Philip for his considered report. I also thank the professionals from across the health system who generously provided their time and expertise,” added Mr Butler