MTAA: Grattan proposals fail to recognise existing reforms

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The Medical Technology Association of Australia has rejected proposals from the Grattan Institute to reform the pricing of medical devices.

The think-tank proposed benchmark pricing, the use of cost-effectiveness assessments, and the introduction of a procedure-based payment model.

However, the MTAA says its attempt to "paint the medical devices industry as the solution to the woes confronting private health insurance" fails to recognise the reform process underway since 2017.

It said the industry has been the "sole contributor" to reducing the upward pressure on private health insurance premiums through the strategic agreement it signed with the federal government that has delivered a series of price cuts in recent years.

"The Agreement will save private health insurers $1.1 billion in payments for medical devices over the next four years and helped deliver the lowest private health premium increase in 18 years in December 2018," said the MTAA.

"According to recent APRA data, compared with the March 2018 quarter, March 2019 quarter statistics show that the average benefit paid for all prostheses has gone down 9%," it added.

According to MTAA CEO Ian Burgess, “Costs for medical devices have fallen in every quarter since Agreement with the Federal Government signed in 2017.

“The medical devices industry has been the sole contributor to reducing the pressure on premiums, with another round of price reductions to come in January 2020.

“The Prostheses List is a key driver of choice for privately insured patients, enabling surgeons to choose the best possible device for each individual patient.

“The Prostheses List ensures that patient outcomes, rather than insurer profits, are at the centre of patient care. Bundling payments, as proposed by the Grattan Institute, simply serves to incentivise the lowest cost option and restrict access.

“To make comparisons with international prices is like comparing apples with oranges, as the price of devices can vary due to range of factors, including differences in healthcare systems, purchasing arrangements, geography and other economic factors.

“The medical technology industry believes access to a full range of medical technology is the most valuable component of a private health insurance policy and we’re committed to doing what we do best – assisting patients to lead healthier and more productive lives.”