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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4422


Mr DUTTON (Dickson) (11:12): I rise to speak on the Health Insurance Amendment (Professional Services Review) Bill 2012. A similar bill was introduced in the last parliament which is largely reflected in the bill before us today. This bill firstly addresses issues raised by the Federal Court in Daniel v Health Insurance Commission. Secondly, it implements recommendations of the review of the PSR scheme, Report of the steering committee 2007. Thirdly, it makes minor administrative changes to the scheme. Finally, in addition to the bill that was presented in the last parliament, it introduces amendments in response to the full Federal Court's decisions in Kutlu v Director of Professional Services Review.

The PSR is a peer review process that was established in the early 1990s. It is charged with protecting the integrity of Medicare and the PBS. The scheme currently covers medical practitioners, dentists, optometrists, midwives, nurse practitioners, chiropractors, physiotherapists, podiatrists and osteopaths who use Medicare and the PBS. The process is intended to protect the public from inappropriate practice by ensuring that Commonwealth funded services delivered by practitioners are medically necessary and clinically relevant. It also protects the public from the consequences of inappropriate practice by ensuring that payments to claimants are made in accordance with the regulations for the Medicare and pharmaceutical benefits schedules—specifically that the service that has been provided is adequate in light of the associated requirements for the payment claimed.

The Medicare Participation Review Committee, or MPRC, is the independent statutory body that decides whether referred practitioners retain the right to practice under Medicare. The Commonwealth currently spends nearly $18 billion on Medicare services and $10 billion on pharmaceutical benefits per annum. The coalition does support processes which ensure the integrity of the expenditure and the appropriateness of the clinical services provided.

The explanatory memorandum states that the amendments proposed in this bill do not alter the PSR or the MPRC processes. The amendments are intended to improve administration, clarify issues raised in recent court decisions and address evidentiary matters. This was reiterated by the minister in her second reading speech. The bill specifically addresses the issues raised in the full Federal Court in relation to Kutlu v Director of Professional Services Review, as I have stated, and in that case the full Federal Court held that there was a technical problem with the appointment of PSR panel members. This bill ensures that the appointments are treated as valid and effective. The coalition does not oppose this bill.