Medicare rebate changes to surgery from July 1

Nuriootpa Medical Centre GP, Dr Michael Hoopmann said the changes are a positive thing for private health patients.

From July 1 the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) underwent its biggest change since 1980 with more than 900 MBS items for rebates for private surgery.

The changes are part of the MBS review of 5,700 Medicate rebates.

The latest changes will affect rebates in areas such as cardiac surgery, orthopaedic surgery and general surgery.

According to Nuriootpa Medical Centre GP, Dr Michael Hoopmann the changes are a positive thing. 

“For general practices the changes will be affected to a small extent, but mainly the private health sector will be affected,” he said.

“I think the changes are good.

“Generally, across the board those in the medical profession have been quite happy with the changes.

“However, the only thing they are unhappy about is that they are being rolled out too quickly and are afraid about the impact.”

On June 6 the Australian Medical Association President, Dr Omar Khorshid said the private health sector including health funds, hospitals, doctors and patients will not be ready for the changes due to poor implementation by the Government.

“We had enough problems in November 2018 when the first tranche of MBS Review changes resulted in private health insurers, through no fault of their own, not having their schedules updated in time,” Dr Khorshid said.

“That meant that no-gap arrangements were not possible or were significantly delayed leading to uncertainty for doctor and patient alike. 

“Patients were left out of pocket, spinal surgeries were delayed, and doctors couldn’t provide patients with informed financial consent about potential gap fees. 

“Those changes involved replacing 70 spinal surgery items with 60 new items. 

“We have repeatedly reached out to Government and the Department of Health to communicate the needs of the sector to ensure a smooth transition of the MBS changes. 

“However, giving the sector just weeks instead of months to change over its entire system to support almost 1,000 changes leaves the health system and patients at risk.”

With a day out from the implementation of the MBS changes, Dr Hoopmann said he was surprised that the changes weren’t advertised more to GP’s.

“They say most of the changes are going to increase the rebates and it will improve payments for the patients,” he added.

“A minority will be reduced, but most of them will be increased.

“The reason they can do this, is because they are rationalising the fees.”

Dr Hoopmann said the changes are mainly due to modernising the system to keep up with the procedures of today.

“Since it was introduced in 1983, a lot of surgical procedures have changed.

“What we are seeing now is that they are carrying out the surgeries more quickly and efficiently.

“This is more effective for the patients.

“By rationalising the changes on the basis of more evidence will benefit patients.”

According to The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Ltd (RACGP), they support changes to the MBS which align with the current clinical practice, including the removal of redundant items to simplify the schedule. 

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