Medicare services review an 'attack on integrity of doctors'

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The Australia Medical Association said it is disappointed with the federal government's approach to reviewing Medicare services, saying it is an attack on the integrity of the medical profession.

The 5700 items listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule are under review in a Turnbull government shake-up of the system.

The Turnbull government has launched a "long overdue" review of Medicare services to bring the system into the 21st century.

There are about 5700 items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule, 70 per cent of which have not changed since Medicare began in 1984.

Review will target 'harmful' services

"The current system is lagging in the last century, with only three per cent of all 5700 Medicare items assessed or tested to see whether they actually work, are out-of-date or even harmful," Health Minister Sussan Ley said in a statement on Sunday.

The minister wants to hear from health professionals and patients about any services, tests or procedures they have come across in the Medicare system that are unnecessary or unsafe.

Such services cost the nation dearly because they stop investment in new, innovative medical treatments and technologies, Ms Ley said.

"This is particularly important when Medicare claims are now hitting one million per day," she said.

Senior Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said he wasn't surprised by the review, given the conservatives didn't support Medicare.

"Every opportunity they have to undermine public health care, they do it," he told Sky News on Sunday.

'Doctors' integrity attacked'

The Australian Medical Association said it is disappointed with the government's approach to the review.

"What we are very disappointed about is the government's approach to attack the integrity of the medical profession by accusing of us doing unsafe and unnecessary procedures for patients all in the name of saving money and taking services away from patients," AMA president Brian Owler told the Macquarie Radio Network. 

Opposition Health Minister Catherine King said the federal opposition has deep concerns about the government's announced review. 

"Let’s be clear, when the minister talks about “a Medicare-funded service, procedure or test they considered to be unnecessary, out-dated or even potentially unsafe” she is talking about potentially ending Medicare funding for hundreds, even thousands of procedures," Ms King said in a statement
 
"Australians are right to be deeply suspicious about the motives of a government which has already ripped more than $60 billion from health, and introduced their GP tax by stealth on every visit the doctor by freezing the Medicare rebates."

Source AAP

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