Guaranteeing Medicare

Jul 1, 2021 | Federal News, WA Labor

The Morrison Government is investing record funding in Medicare, providing more support to Australians as we face some of the greatest health challenges in a generation. Our commitment to Medicare is rock solid.

We are investing $125.7 billion in Medicare over the forward estimates, an increase of over $6 billion since last year’s Budget. This is up 58% from when Labor were last in government.

This includes $204.6 million to extend the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) telehealth arrangements until 31 December 2021, bringing the total investment in telehealth to $3.6 billion. This is continuing to provide access to health services for all Australians regardless of where they live. Importantly patients whose movements are restricted by a State or Territory public health order can continue to access support through telehealth.

Through the 2021-22 Budget, the Government invested a further $711.7 million to add new services and strengthen existing services on the MBS. For example, $40.5 million has been committed for ambulatory blood pressure monitoring – a new service for diagnosing high blood pressure (hypertension) that provides greater accuracy for diagnosis through continuous monitoring over 24 hours. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is superior to the currently MBS funded service of discrete blood pressure measurements in a clinic, or using home blood pressure monitors in conjunction with GP consultations.

From 1 July 2021, changes to the MBS items for orthopaedic, cardiac and general surgery services will be implemented following recommendations of the independent, clinician-led MBS Taskforce Review.

The changes are part of the most comprehensive review of Medicare since it began, with the aim of modernising the system to ensure it supports high quality health and medical practice.

They result from a five year process by the MBS Review Taskforce, including detailed consideration by committees led by medical experts, and extensive consultation with relevant medical organisations and the public.

As well as revised Medicare rebates, the changes include the addition of new items, the revision of some items and removal of other obsolete items, to reflect contemporary best practice.

They will improve the quality and safety of care for patients, support high value care, and simplify the MBS.

The majority of the changes coming into effect on 1 July 2021 relate to orthopaedic surgery items, which make up about 10 per cent of all MBS items.

Medicare rebates have been reviewed to reflect the cost and complexity of performing each service. They will assist consumers in accessing the best available medical treatment and ensure a more consistent approach to billing by providers.

Rebates will significantly increase for a number of items. Rebates will rise for nine existing items for general surgery and 29 orthopaedic surgery items. For example, the Medicare rebate for revision of knee replacement (item 49533) will increase by $315 to $2,645.55.

For cardiac surgery, rebates will rise significantly across three services related to coronary bypass grafting surgery, which have been increased by 50 per cent.

Changes to general surgery consolidate the existing 138 items into 85 items and provide more flexibility for surgeons to better tailor treatment to patients.

Private Healthcare Australia has publicly supported the 1 July 2021 changes, noting most patients would not pay increased out-of-pocket costs and that rebates have increased for a range of orthopaedic procedures.

The Government will closely monitor the impact of the 1 July 2021 changes to ensure there are no unintended consequences to patients. We are also committed to working in partnership with the sector, including the AMA, private health insurers and private hospitals, to implement future changes to the MBS recommended by the MBS Review Taskforce.

Further information about the 1 July 2021 changes to the MBS is available at: