Choosing Wisely Australia launches in time for Medicare review

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

While the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) welcomes the Commonwealth Government’s recent announcement to review the items funded through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), it believes the process should be informed by initiatives like the Choosing Wisely campaign.

AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven says that the initiative of the Australian medical colleges and societies, Choosing Wisely Australia, which was officially launched by NPS Medicinewise today, would help the government identify low-value or no-value investigations and treatments.

“The Commonwealth Government’s recent decision to review the MBS shows a positive change in direction—away from cost-shifting and other blunt fiscal measures, towards more strategic efforts aimed at reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and improving health system sustainability and patient care,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“However, it is essential that any such review of Medicare is also based on a solid evidence base, developed in consultation with consumers, clinicians and health service representatives, and that the implications and impacts are considered across the whole health system.

“As such, the launch of Choosing Wisely Australia today comes at an opportune time, as it can provide much needed guidance as the government embarks on its review process. It will do this by starting important conversations with healthcare stakeholders—including both clinicians and consumers—about tests, treatments and procedures where evidence shows they provide no benefit and, in some cases, lead to harm.”

Ms Verhoeven also said a review of the MBS was long overdue.

"Ensuring that the services funded through Medicare are appropriate and cost-effective will contribute far more to the sustainability of the system than imposing co-payments and freezing rebates,” Ms Verhoeven said.  “To further support sustainability, the review process needs to implement mechanisms for regular ongoing reviews to ensure that Medicare-funded services reflect best practice and best value.

“The AHHA looks forward to participating actively in this process, in its role as the peak body representing public and not-for-profit health service providers in both the primary and acute care sectors.

“Minister Ley is to be congratulated for accepting the challenge to look for new solutions. Similarly, restoration of the funding for hospitals that was stripped in last year’s Budget will be a further sign that the Government is committed to ensuring accessible and affordable health services for all Australians,” Ms Verhoeven said.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, 0403 282 501