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Notice given 7 March 2008

359  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) With reference to the current reassessment by the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) of its advice concerning the funding of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) for melanoma, colorectal and ovarian cancer, have the MSAC recommendations for public funding for these indications been received by the Minister; if so, what is the timeline for approval by the Minister.

(2) With reference to the advice provided by Mr Kingdon, First Assistant Secretary of the Medical Benefits Division, during an additional estimates hearing of the Community Affairs Committee that the 2007 recommendations ‘went through an earlier process, but because we had an intervening election we had to restart again’ (Committee Hansard , 20 February 2008, p. 59P), why was it necessary to ‘restart again’ and what bearing did the election have on the advice provided.

(3) Given that the MSAC’s website indicates assessments will be completed in 56 weeks, yet the MSAC had already assessed these indications in 2000 or 2001 and the MSAC signed off on the protocols used for collecting the data that was presented for review in 2006, why did the reassessment of these indications take essentially the same length of time as normal assessments.

(4) On what dates were these indications considered by the MSAC and the MSAC Advisory Committee meetings.

(5) With reference to the proposed reassessment by the MSAC of evidence concerning the funding of PET for sarcoma, lymphoma, brain tumours and oesophageal, head, neck and cervical cancers: (a) has the data on all these indications been collected; (b) where data has been collected, which indications are currently being considered by the MSAC; and (c) when will the MSAC’s advice be provided to the Minister.

(6) Will the MSAC be preparing advice concerning the funding of PET for: (a) indications included under the current ministerial determinations but where data collection protocols have not been developed; (b) sub-groups of patients included within the current indications but not evaluated by the data collection protocols, for example, high grade lymphoma and Hodgkins disease; and (c) indications that have not been previously considered by the MSAC, such as breast cancer, the evaluation of lung cancer patients after primary treatment, therapeutic monitoring and tumours in childhood and infancy.

(7) In each case referred to in paragraph (6), if not, why not.

(8) If it is the case that the Government does not normally fund projects like the current PET data collection: (a) what is the estimated cost of such data collection (not including the cost of the PET scans); (b) what unique data has been provided by the collection process; (c) is it the case that the data collection protocols did not include a methodology for assessing costs and effectiveness; if so, why, given the fact that the MSAC’s original assessment of PET did not find sufficient evidence to draw conclusions about the clinical or cost effectiveness of PET.


 360  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) How many new surgical procedures have been put to the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) for consideration since 2004.

(2) (a) Of these procedures, how many have been recommended by the MSAC to the Minister for funding; and (b) of these recommended procedures: (i) how many have been approved, and (ii) which procedures have not been approved.

(3) (a) Which surgical procedures remain to be assessed by the MSAC; and (b) of these procedures, which have been with the MSAC for more than 16 months and what are the reasons for the lack of progress on the assessments.