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Medicare Benefits Schedule review

The AASW has been part of the Department of Health's Medicare Benefits Schedule review since its announcement in April 2015.

On 22 April 2015, the Minister of Health announced that a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce would be established. The taskforce is considering how the more than 5,700 items on the MBS can be aligned with contemporary clinical evidence and practice and improve health outcomes for patients. The review is clinician-led and there are no targets for savings attached to the review. The taskforce recommendations will be made to the Minister.

The AASW has so far been involved in all the relevant stakeholder consultation forums, meeting with Chair Professor Bruce Robinson, and making a submission based on member consultation in relation to pay equity and better utilisation of social work supports. We are waiting on permission to release the submission to members.

This was during the initial general consultation stage (2015/2016) before the review established clinical committees to explore the items according to general themes. Tranches 1–4 have been established, but the committees focusing on mental health and allied health services will not commence until the initial tranches have concluded. We have been advised that this will occur in late 2017.

The AASW has also nominated to be on the Medicare Benefits Schedule review clinical committee. This information is also available on the Medicare Benefits Schedule review website.

We have delivered our main arguments to the review, and once the relevant committees are established we will once again consult with members around any further points. Furthermore, the review accepts submissions from individuals. We encourage members to make an individual submission at any time to the review by email to mbsreviews@health.gov.au.

This is only one avenue through which the AASW advocates for Medicare reform, with other recent examples including giving evidence in relation to the Family Court System calling for a specific family violence MBS item and a letter to the Health Minister calling for the inclusion of Better Access in residential aged care.

We will continue to update members through our normal communication channels.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers