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The following articles have the tag MBS

Don’t expect ‘big bang’ Medicare reform

THE failed co-payment plan that cost a health minister his portfolio has scotched any chance of a "big bang" Medicare reform in tonight’s budget, experts agree. But the new health minister should be praised for uncoupling the reform process from the budget cycle and for standing up to the Pharmacy Guild. That’s according to Terry Barnes, the former Howard government adviser whose paper on co-payments – which did not propose the deeply unpopular $5 rebate cut – sparked the failed policy. "The fatal mistake of the co-payment policy was ...

Ley revives Medical Research Future Fund

HEALTH Minister Sussan Ley has vowed to pour savings from a comprehensive review of the MBS into the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Telstra’s telehealth push

TELSTRA is pushing to extend Medicare coverage to GP telehealth consultations, as the carrier today announced its own foray into healthcare.

Practice nurse role in health assessments to stay

Practice nurse role in health assessments to stay

HEALTH authorities have agreed to make a clear statement upholding the role of practice nurses in performing health assessments, in a move hailed as a victory for preventive medicine in Australia.

PIP for teaching set to double?

A DOUBLING in PIP payments for GP teaching promised by the Coalition before the election last year looks likely to be included in the upcoming federal budget.

PIP payments for teaching set to double

PIP payments for teaching set to double

A DOUBLING in PIP payments for GP teaching promised by the Coalition before the election last year looks likely to be included in the upcoming federal budget.

Medicare unsustainable, govt says

Medicare unsustainable, govt says

FEDERAL Treasurer Joe Hockey has warned that Australia will run out of money to pay for Medicare and its welfare and education systems unless the government takes a hard look at the costs.

If you can afford it, make a co-payment: Dutton

If you can afford it, make a co-payment: Dutton

HEALTH Minister Peter Dutton has suggested that Australians who can afford to pay more for GP services may be asked to begin making co-payments for previously bulk-billed care.

PSR sanctions GP treating 500 patients in a day

A GP who made Medicare claims for seeing more than 500 patients in one day and more than 200 on 29 other days has accepted undisclosed sanctions from the Professional Services Review (PSR).

MBS rebate freeze won’t work: AMA

A PROPOSAL for a four-year freeze of MBS rebates and a flat $6 patient co-payment fee in place of bulk-billing arrangements has been rejected by the AMA.

MBS rebate freeze here to stay: Coalition

MBS rebate freeze here to stay: Coalition

THE Coalition government is unable to reverse the freeze on MBS rebates, following the AMA’s move to increase its recommended Level B consult fee from $71 to $73, Health Minister Peter Dutton said today.

Patients disadvantaged by telehealth rules

THE failure to make GP-facilitated telehealth consultations with hospital-based specialists eligible for MBS rebates is limiting the potential of the system while disadvantaging patients, according to the Queensland health minister.

Doctor designs his own PC MBS app

A GP working on a small island in the Northern Territory’s remote Arnhem Land has developed a PC app that he hopes will help transform and streamline the way doctors use Medicare items.

Greens’ pledge to reverse rebate freeze welcomed

DOCTORS and patients have praised the Greens’ “leadership” on health funding, following a pre-election pledge to reverse the government’s freeze on MBS rebates.

Pharmacists want bigger role in team care management

PHARMACISTS have requested access to the MBS in order to play a greater role in GP team care planning arrangements for the management of chronic disease.

Patients will pay for wage increase: AMA

THE AMA has branded a mandatory minimum wage increase announced by the Fair Work Ombudsman as “yet another nail in the coffin for patient access”.

‘We’ll up our fees’: GPs reject freeze

GENERAL practices have rejected the government’s rationale for placing an eight-month freeze on MBS rebates, with some practices already confirming plans to increase gap fees and axe bulk-billing of even disadvantaged patients.

Double billing crackdown challenged

Double billing crackdown challenged

GPs have challenged the government to provide evidence justifying the need for a crackdown on ‘double billing’ of chronic disease management (CDM) and standard consult item numbers.

Backlash over freeze on rebates

MBS rebates have been frozen and the Extended Medicare Safety Net threshold has been raised as part of sweeping savings measures included in the federal budget.

‘Dumbing down the health system’ – doctors dissect budget

FREEZING Medicare rebates, targeting MBS double-dipping, and capping tax-deductible CPD costs claimed by doctors are all part of sweeping savings measures in the federal budget.

Budget round-up: How health fared

Budget round-up: How health fared

THE government is set to net $644 million over four years by freezing indexation of Medicare rebates at current levels until 1 July 2014 as part of savings measures in the federal budget.

‘Hands off Medicare’, AMA tells government

SPECULATION of a potential freeze on MBS rebates has led to a call from doctors for the government to keep its “hands off Medicare” ahead of next week’s federal budget.

Rebate rise may save addiction specialty

ADDICTION medicine specialists have called for an urgent increase in MBS rebate levels, arguing the lack of adequate remuneration could lead to the demise of the specialty.

Govt gets tougher on practices with co-located services

Govt gets tougher on practices with co-located services

GPs in group practices with co-located health services will be subject to increased scrutiny of their Medicare billing as part of a newly announced review targeting overservicing.

One step closer to ‘medical home’

GPs came a step closer to receiving Medicare rebates for enrolling and coordinating treatment of patients with chronic diseases last week when Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said she would consider the RACGP’s long-awaited ‘medical home’ proposal.

Call to keep chronic disease funding

GP GROUPS have made a unanimous call for the government to guarantee there will be no cuts to chronic disease management funding as part of a review into the sector.

More time for chronic disease management tops RACGP’s budget wishlist

More time for chronic disease management tops RACGP’s budget wishlist

MBS rebates for chronic disease management need overhauling to allow GPs to spend enough time with those patients, says the RACGP.

Chronic care items favour lower income groups

MEDICARE spending on chronic care items is primarily being used by patients from lower income households, according to research published in the MJA today.

PSR transition means $1.1m less for Medicare

THE forced resignation of all Professional Services Review (PSR) panellists in late 2010 has contributed to a $1.1 million drop in incorrectly claimed Medicare funds recovered by the peer watchdog.

Billing just got easier with this time-saving phone app

LIKE all GPs Dr Jane Ramsey has more useful things to do with her time than spend it thumbing through the MBS searching for appropriate items to bill.

Skype’s the limit for telehealth consultations

Skype’s the limit for telehealth consultations

A MELBOURNE GP, fed up with not being able to find a specialist to conduct telehealth consultations, has launched a free website designed to connect doctors via the Skype video-conferencing program.

GP creates Skype site for telehealth consults

A MELBOURNE GP, fed up with not being able to find a specialist to conduct telehealth consultations, has launched a free website designed to connect doctors via the Skype video-conferencing program.

Physical health check call for severely mentally ill

GPs have backed a senior mental health campaigner who has called for MBS rebates for physical health checks for patients with severe mental illness.

Physical health check call for severely mentally ill

GPs have backed a senior mental health campaigner who has called for MBS rebates for physical health checks for patients with severe mental illness.

Govt branded 'hypocritical' over revised PSR laws

Laws to retrospectively validate past PSR findings, extend the scope of the review to all MBS-claiming practitioners and “automatically” deem any breach of the 80-20 rule inappropriate practice were introduced to federal parliament this morning.

Retrospective PSR legislation introduced by Minister Plibersek

Laws to retrospectively validate past PSR findings, extend the scope of the review to all MBS-claiming practitioners and “automatically” deem any breach of the 80-20 rule inappropriate practice have been introduced to parliament this morning.

Circumcision may be cut from MBS

THE government will consider removing circumcision from the MBS as part of a planned review of paediatric surgery, in a move certain to be opposed by proponents who compare the ethics and practice of infant male circumcision to childhood vaccination.

Time running out for $6000 telehealth incentive

ELIGIBLE GPs have “no excuses” for not taking up telehealth consultations, according to experts who urged practitioners to try a video consultation before the $6000 ‘on-board’ incentive payments are cut by 20% from July.

GPs should ask nurses to assist in telehealth

RURAL GPs have been encouraged to allow practice nurses to deputise for them in consultations to help increase the availability of telehealth services to rural patients.

BEACH to investigate GPs' unpaid work

BEACH to investigate GPs' unpaid work

General practice research program Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) is for the first time gathering information on how much time GPs spend on patient care outside Medicare-rebatable consultations.

PCEHR set-up payments still in doubt

CONFUSION is lingering among GPs and doctor’s groups in the wake of Health Minister Tanya Plibersek’s announcement yesterday that MBS consultation items would be available for ‘nominated providers’ creating electronic shared health summaries.

Insomnia? Call Medicare, and sleep while you wait

THE federal government’s public sector cost-cutting drive has been slammed after a survey found people were waiting so long on hold to speak to a Medicare or Centrelink call centre operator, they were falling asleep by the time their call got through.

Registration fees and bulk billing don’t mix: Medicare

MEDICARE has warned doctors that charging patients an annual fee to stay on the books while bulk billing is illegal, amid reports the practice of charging so-called ‘registration fees’ may be growing.

Coalition, Greens urge govt to wipe dentists' $21.5m debt

THE government has been urged to forgive the debts of many dentists caught out in auditing of the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS), or face being forced to via a private member's bill.

Battling insomnia? Call Medicare – the wait will put you to sleep

THE federal government’s public sector cost-cutting drive has been slammed after a survey found people were waiting so long on hold to speak to a Medicare or Centrelink call centre operator, they were falling asleep by the time their call got through.

Navigating the MBS now easier as service unveiled

GPs concerned about attracting the ire of Medicare and the PSR by incorrectly interpreting MBS item descriptors will be able to rely on a recently unveiled advice service.

Govt plan to boost PSR power causes division in the ranks

EXPERTS are divided over the prospect of the Professional Services Review (PSR) being given power to target corporate practices suspected of “coercing” GPs into inappropriate MBS claims, after the federal government agreed to consider lengthening the watchdog’s leash.

PSR legislation review could lead to PBS restrictions

GPs could be banned from prescribing specific drugs on the PBS, while PSR panels could include legally qualified representatives, after the federal government accepted all recommendations arising from last year’s senate inquiry into the Medicare watchdog.

Universal bulk billing plan to win back patients

PRIMARY Health Care is edging back toward universal bulk billing at its bigger medical centres to win back business from the growing number of people who put off visiting their GP because of the cost.

Doctors dispute Medicare misuse

GPs, ophthalmologists and obstetricians have reacted angrily to being made examples of in an article by former Professional Services Review (PSR) director Dr Tony Webber, who claimed the Australian health system is leaking up to $3 billion annually.

Provide nurse details or miss out on payments

Provide nurse details or miss out on payments

Medicare is urging general practices to provide details of how they employ practice nurses by the middle of the year to avoid missing out on “top-up” payments for lost income under the new block payment scheme for practice nurses.

GFC could raise GP co-payments

PRIMARY care escaped Treasurer Wayne Swan’s pruning shears in last week’s emergency mini-budget, but health policy experts have warned another global financial crisis could raise the possibility of increased co-payments for GP visits in 2012.

E-records legislation to be investigated

THE Senate will investigate new legislation intended to create Australia’s personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system after the two relevant bills were referred to the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs last week.

Better Access cuts will go back into mental health: Roxon

HEALTH Minister Nicola Roxon has given GPs a guarantee that every cent saved through the controversial cuts to the Better Access scheme will be reinvested elsewhere in mental health services.

PSR appoints Bill Coote as permanent director

FORMER AMA secretary general and GPET CEO Dr Bill Coote has been appointed permanent director of the Professional Services Review (PSR) and will begin his three-year appointment on 14 November.

Senate inquiry ignores GP role in mental health: AMA

THE undermining of GP involvement in mental health care through the slashing of Better Access rebates has been ignored by a key Senate inquiry examining the impact of the government’s cuts to the program, the AMA has claimed.

Nurse practitioners claim $700,000 in MBS services

NURSE practitioners (NPs) have claimed more than $700,000 in MBS services during the first 11 months since the profession was granted access to Medicare rebates in November last year.

GPs urged to promote generics

GPs have been urged to promote generic medicines after a report said Australians now pay $1 billion a year in primary healthcare out-of-pocket charges and a quarter are choosing not to fill prescriptions because of the cost. The Australia Institute paper also called for prescription software that defaults to active ingredients rather than brand names, automation of the Medicare safety net, and mandated government-supplied referral forms with estimated costs of treatment and different provider options. The research, based on a survey of 1411 Australians and available Medicare data, said Australians – ...

GPs are not ‘fat cats’, AMA tells Roxon

THE prospect of further cuts to the MBS has drawn an angry reaction from AMA Council of General Practice chair Dr Brian Morton, who said GPs already sacrificed their own incomes to act as the “government’s social conscience”. Dr Morton said comments made yesterday by Health Minister Nicola Roxon showed she considered GPs to be “fat cats who can take a cut”. Ms Roxon, addressing the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia in Melbourne yesterday, said the government had been “carefully running the ruler over existing expenditure”. She said ...

Simplifying the MBS puzzle

GP registrars often struggle with the MBS, but taking advice as gospel could lead to problems.

Govt couples telehealth rebates with $6000 set-up payment

THE Government will soon pay GPs $6000 to set up video-conferencing equipment, and another $40 each time they assist during a patient's telehealth session with a consulting specialist. The incentive payments will be available from 1 July for practitioners who attend the telehealth consultation at the patient end, when the consultation takes place outside the "inner-metropolitan" centres or in a residential aged care facility or an Aboriginal medical service. RACGP telehealth standards working group member Dr Nathan Pinskier said while it was encouraging to see telehealth being given priority, there were a number of issues for GPs ...

Health Department defers MBS item advice to doctors’ groups

Health Department defers MBS item advice to doctors’ groups

GPs in doubt over how to interpret the MBS should be calling the RACGP and the AMA, according to advice from a senior Health Department official. The news has come as a surprise to both professional bodies, who have argued that providing such information has never been part of their role. The advice was given to Queensland GP Dr Scott Masters by Rose Ross, the director of the Medicare Integrity Section within the Department’s Medicare Benefits Branch, after Dr Masters requested advice on the appropriateness of claiming several MBS items. Ms Ross’s advice was based on ...

PSR panel suspended over error in selection process

MEDICARE watchdog the Professional Services Review (PSR) has suspended all operations of its peer review committees following revelations of irregularities in the appointment of panel members. A spokesperson for the PSR has confirmed that 40 matters before the PSR had been deferred after every panellist – understood to be almost 100 – was asked to resign and apply for reappointment.  The move follows news that the Department of Health had failed to seek the necessary AMA approval for the appointment of an unknown number of panellists, as required by the legislation governing the PSR’s operations.  “The ...

Medicare clamps down on fraudulent claims

GP CARE plans will continue to be targeted by Medicare’s National Compliance Program with its latest report revealing the key focus areas for monitoring in the coming year. According to the report, GP care plans, compliance with Practice Incentive Program (PIP) incentive payments, bulk billing incentive payments, and the monitoring of up-coding of procedural items are to be targeted by Medicare in the coming year. Ordering of diagnostic imaging and pathology tests are also to come under greater scrutiny following the PSR’s recent warning in its annual report of doctors inappropriately using tests for screening purposes. ...

Medicare audits planned for NP agreements

COLLABORATIVE arrangements between GPs and nurse practitioners (NPs) are set to be closely monitored by Medicare from next week to ensure compliance with new legislation. The arrangements, which require NPs to work in collaboration with doctors before they can have access to the MBS and PBS, will be scrutinised as part of a “risk identification” process, a Medicare spokesperson said. The results will be used to “inform any future targeted audit activity”.  Medicare has also indicated it will grant NPs at least six months’ grace to understand the new system before it considers any targeted compliance audits ...

GPs urge: review nurse incentive next

BUOYED by a win on securing collaborative agreements with nurse practitioners, GP groups have issued a united call to the Gillard Government to review its practice nurse incentive.  GP umbrella group United General Practice Australia called for the review, repeating claims that the decision to provide block funding for practice nurses, while stripping GPs of the ability to claim certain nurse MBS item numbers, would hurt practices. As it stands, the scheme will provide practices with up to $25,000 per GP to employ practice nurses. The maximum payment per practice is $125,000. GPs believe they are set ...

Divisions to pilot patient-controlled e-records

THE Government has announced the first sites to be involved in the launch of its patient-controlled e-health record, with GP divisions across three states set to pilot a national rollout. Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the three chosen GP divisions – GPpartners (Queensland), GP Access (NSW) and Melbourne East GP Network (Victoria) – were selected on the basis of their already strong e-health capabilities and community networks. However, despite announcing the $12.5 million investment in establishing the first sites, a spokesperson for Labor said no further detail was available regarding an implementation timetable for the records or ...

GPs win control over nurse access to MBS

GPs are now weighing up the opportunities that collaboration with nurse practitioners (NPs) may yield, following a directive from the Federal Government that NPs will need the consent of doctors before they treat patients on the MBS. The new collaborative arrangements, signed off by Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon, are being hailed as a win for doctors’ groups who have lobbied hard to have such written agreements included. Many groups had previously voiced fears that without such collaborative agreements, independent NPs could lead to fragmentation of patient care.Four scenarios under which NPs can treat patient on the ...

AMA enlists patient support to stand up for GPs

THE AMA has come out fighting on general practice issues, launching a campaign in the lead-up to the federal election amid  concerns over the  profession’s future under planned sweeping health reforms. As part of the campaign, Family Medicine is running out of time, the association has called on all parties to develop policies which “support and preserve” the vital role of GPs. And, in a rare move, it is now seeking to enlist the support of patients. A patient petition demanding that the Government cut red tape, ensure patients have the right to choose their ...

Practising with nurse practitioners

With expanded prescribing rights and access to the MBS coming up later this year for nurse practitioners, Amanda Sheppeard reports on some of the issues practices should consider.

Nurse grants could see some GPs lose income

THE $390.3 million Federal Budget boost in funding for practice nurses could see both winners and losers, with concerns raised that individual GPs could be penalised financially under the new scheme. The measure was one of several key commitments to primary care unveiled in the Federal Budget. Infrastructure grants of $355.2 million for general practice also made it onto the Budget agenda (see page 4). This was a win for lobby group United General Practice Australia, which has long campaigned for such an investment.  The nurse incentives provide funding for 4600 nurses to be employed in general ...

GP nurse freedom preferable to NP prescribing

THE Federal Government should have given practice nurses greater freedom rather than granting MBS and PBS access to nurse practitioners, GP groups say. The AMA and RACGP have hit out at the Federal Government over its decision last month to give the go-ahead to nurse practitioners to claim benefits from the MBS and PBS. The GP groups say it should have instead given the green light to practice nurses to prescribe and order tests because their relationship with GPs is stronger. AMA vice-president and GP Dr Steve Hambleton said the association would have recommended that Australia ...

NPs will help ‘ease GPs’ workloads’

NPs will help ‘ease GPs’ workloads’

THE Federal Government’s landmark ruling to grant nurse practitioners access to the MBS and the PBS will open up a variety of opportunities for nurses and significantly ease GPs’ workloads, a Queensland GP argues. Dr Patrick Byrnes, who employed the state’s first nurse practitioner in general practice at his Alexandra Park Medical Centre in Bundaberg, has given the green light for nurses to take on more responsibility. And he has good reason to believe GPs will be glad of the help. Dr Byrnes said a 26-week trial of 210 patients enrolled in chronic disease management clinics at ...

GPs plan civil disobedience in protest over MBS confusion

GPs plan civil disobedience in protest over MBS confusion

GROWING discontent over a lack of transparency in the Medicare and Professional Services Review systems has led a group of GPs to take unprecedented measures to highlight their concerns. GPs participating in a national Internet mailgroup community have signalled their intent to decrease their bulk-billing rates and, in some cases, to stop assigning MBS item numbers to their consultations. The move comes after members’ continued frustration over  securing a definitive description of a Level C consultation, that they could be assured would be accepted by both Medicare and the PSR ( MO , 2 April).  Recent ...

Proposed law will boost Medicare watchdog’s power over doctors

THE Professional Services Review (PSR) may soon be able to request that doctors hand over pathology specimens relevant to its investigations, under proposed legislation revealed last week.  Under proposed amendments to the Health Insurance Amendment (PSR) Bill, the Medicare watchdog will be given powers to subpoena any “relevant objects” pertaining to suspect inappropriate claims. These can include pathology specimens, pharmaceutical preparations or medical equipment. PSR director Dr Tony Webber said such requests could be made in cases where the watchdog had reason to believe doctors had falsely claimed higher rebates for malignant legion removal and excision procedures. ...