Medicare Benefits Schedule Review

Key points

  • The Review of MBS items is important and timely
  • Implementation needs to be careful to avoid unintended consequences

The Australian Government is currently undertaking a review of the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) to align the over 5700 item numbers with best evidence and practice.

The MTAA supports this review, as these item numbers play an important role in determining and remunerating clinical practice.

The review is being undertaken by the MBS Review Taskforce which sets up clinical committees and working groups consisting of clinicians working in the relevant area and consumer representatives.

The Taskforce then issues recommendations for consultation and then issued for response by the Australian Government. The Government will further consider implementation and fee considerations, including by setting up implementation liaison groups. Announcements of changes are made through the Federal Budget and the Mid-Year Economic Forecast.

Most reviews by the Taskforce have now been completed, however issues of implementation are still to be determined in most cases.

MBS item changes can have unintended impacts on the use of technology, because they influence behaviour and practice not only of clinicians but of private health insurers who may structure payments around the items.

It is important therefore that implementation is carefully considered.

The Oncology Review is particularly important because it makes sweeping recommendations to the MBS items in a sensitive area