Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Alliance was recently invited to attend a stakeholder forum as part of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce. The forum was held in Canberra on July 8 and was attended by over 100 stakeholders, all of them interested in how the Commonwealth Government might improve the MBS. The forum, which was facilitated by the Chair of the Taskforce, Professor Bruce Robinson, had a number of objectives. In part it was to communicate how the Taskforce is planning to go about its work, and to provide information about timelines and expected outcomes. By attending the forum we learnt that the Taskforce intends to produce a Discussion Paper in September this year, and will be inviting public submissions in response to this paper. The Taskforce will also be convening a large number (perhaps up to 100) discipline specific review panels that will do the detailed work of examining specific MBS items. The forum also sought feedback from stakeholders on the potential challenges the Taskforce might face, and advice on how it should determine which MBS items should be reviewed first. Stakeholders attending the forum were quite vocal about the potential challenges. They included the challenge of engaging the health sector in the review process, many of whom are suffering from 'reform fatigue', and ensuring that the sector was clear about how the Taskforce was interpreting its terms of reference. Discussion among the attendees suggested, for example, that it was not yet clear whether or not the Taskforce was going to consider MBS rules relating to scope of practice as part of its review. Participants at the forum also had the opportunity to make suggestions on how the Taskforce should go about communicating its findings to the health sector once its review is complete. For those interested, the Taskforce will be holding two more events: one in Adelaide on July 24, and another in on Perth on July 25. Anyone interested in attending should contact the MBS review Taskforce by sending an email to this address: MBSReviews@health.gov.au