Outcomes: Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce meeting 1 March 2016

On 1 March 2016, the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce held its seventh meeting. Following is an outcomes summary from the meeting.

Page last updated: 07 June 2016

PDF version: Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce meeting 1 March 2016 (PDF 224 KB)

On 1 March 2016, the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce held its eighth meeting. Following is an outcomes summary from the meeting.

Attendance of Mrs Anne Kolbe

The Chair welcomed Mrs Anne Kolbe as an observer in her capacity as Chair of the NZ National Health Committee. Mrs Kolbe noted parallels between the Taskforce’s role and that of a Ministerial committee she leads, charged with advising on three key areas of the New Zealand health system: value for money, fiscal sustainability and increasing the contribution of the health system to GDP.

Guidance for Review Clinical Committees on MBS item design–Paper on appropriate use criteria

Members discussed a paper on appropriate use criteria (AUC), drafted by Taskforce member Prof Adam Elshaug’s group at the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney. Members noted the following main points:
  • AUC is the gold standard globally, and is broadly consistent with the approach used by the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).
  • The template in the draft paper reflects the activities already being undertaken by Clinical Committees and provides a transparent and consistent record of a Committee’s decision-making process.
  • The paper’s approach will be beneficial for the Taskforce as well as Clinical Committees, as the comprehensive information it provides will assist the Taskforce in analysing Clinical Committee recommendations.
  • This approach will also be a useful foundation for an ongoing MBS review process, after the Taskforce Review is completed.
Members were advised that the Principles and Rules Committee had previously considered the paper and recommended that the AUC approach should be trialled by the second tranche of Review Clinical Committees. Members agreed to this recommendation.

Changing doctor and patient behaviours–the Review and the Hawthorne Effect

Members noted journal and media articles which discussed the impact of the Review on patient and doctor behaviour, indicating that publicity around the Review and the wider notion of waste in the health system is influencing patient decisions about their care. It was noted that while behaviours might be affected while these issues had prominence, reversion to type was inevitable once these influences were removed, and it was important to consider ways to embed desired behaviours in the longer term.

Update from the MBS Principles and Rules Committee

The Chair of the Principles and Rules (P&R) Committee updated Taskforce members on the P&R Committee’s recent deliberations on aftercare and co-claiming issues. The P&R Committee Chair advised that his Committee proposed to develop detailed recommendations on these issues at its next meeting, for submission to the Taskforce at its next meeting.

There was also discussion of the P&R Committee’s proposal to recommend mandating practitioner education in MBS rules and procedures by making online training in these areas a prerequisite for access to the MBS. Taskforce members supported this approach.