RACGP sees new Medicare body as politics-free zone

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The RACGP is calling for an independent Medicare Authority to take the politics out of healthcare decisions

The RACGP is calling for an independent Medicare Authority to take the politics out of healthcare decisions and stop deals being done “on the backs of GPs”.

RACGP President Bastian Seidel said the proposed new body would incorporate the MBS Review and would make the review process continuous and permanent to maintain relevance.

Dr Seidel said he was confident the landmark review, being overseen by Professor Bruce Robinson, would be extended beyond its scheduled term ending in seven months.

A new authority should also be tasked with contemporary pricing of individual MBS items based on the “true value” to patients and clinicians, Dr Seidel said, announcing the plan today at a lunch at the National Press Club in Canberra.

In addition, it would incorporate the Professional Services Review, an agency within the Health Department that investigates doctors suspected of Medicare non-compliance, and the Medical Services Advisory Committee.

“We’ve got to bring those branches together. Fragmentation here has the same detrimental effect as fragmentation in the delivery in health care,” Dr Seidel said.

In his address, Dr Seidel mapped out a framework similar to the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, which would routinely review MBS item numbers, introduce new items in a timely fashion, foster clinical innovation and maintain efficiency and fairness.

Stressing the RACGP’s view that health reform should be in the interests of patients first of all, he said the new body would also review the Medicare Safety Net.

“If we do have a safety net, it should be significantly lower for patients who need to see their GP. It would be the right thing to do.”

The luncheon address marked the opening on Monday of the RACGP’s new Canberra office, a move that marks the college’s resolve to become more of a player in political debate affecting patients and the profession.

Dr Seidel said he was determined to raise the health literacy of politicians.

“We are sick of deals being done on the backs of GPs,” he told reporters after the luncheon.

The Professional Services Review function, if working in concert with the other arms of Medicare, would be much more efficient and transparent, he said.

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