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Monday, 11 November 2002
Page: 6018


Senator Mark Bishop asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, upon notice, on 27 August 2002:

(1) Is there a performance indicator for the payment of doctors' fees for services provided to veterans in the memorandum of understanding between the department and the Health Insurance Commission; if so, what is the timeframe in which the Health Insurance Commission is required to pay.

(2) How has the Health Insurance Commission performed against this indicator on a monthly basis over the past 2 years.

(3) What is the average time for payment of fees for medical services provided, by category of health care service, on a monthly basis over the past 12 months.

(4) Can a copy of the memorandum of understanding between the department and the Health Insurance Commission be provided.

(5) (a) What was the total amount paid to the Health Insurance Commission by the department annually for each of the past 3 years; and (b) how many individual claims for payment for a service were made by doctors in each of those years, by Medicare item number.

(6) When is the memorandum of understanding with the Health Insurance Commission due for revision or renewal.

(7) Will the services presently provided by the Health Insurance Commission be put out to tender on expiry of the existing contract; if so, when will that occur.

(8) What is the estimated cost per transaction for administration (ie. rate per claim and payment) of the new Orange Card.


Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for Veterans' Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) A new Services Agreement with the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) is in the process of being finalised. This agreement will replace the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which has been in place since 1996. The performance indicators for the payment of doctor's fees in the 1996 MOU are as follows:

· Local Medical Officers Accounts - To be paid within 28 days of date of lodgement with HIC. Accounts not paid within 28 days are subject to a penalty of 1.5% of the account for each 28 days the account is overdue.

· Specialists Accounts - To be paid within 28 days of date of lodgement with HIC.

(2) Over the past 2 years the HIC has consistently paid 99% of medical accounts within 28 days from date of lodgement.

(3) The average number of processing days from date of lodgement to date of processing for payment of fees for medical services over the past 12 months are as follows:

Jul 01

Aug 01

Sept 01

Oct 01

Nov 01

Dec 01

Jan 02

Feb 02

Mar 02

Apr 02

May 02

Jun 02

GP Consultation

12.09

10.34

9.42

9.68

11.07

10.22

11.55

9.68

10.02

8.36

8.07

8.49

Specialist Services

12.81

11.79

11.32

10.62

11.84

11.04

12.29

10.81

12.11

11.69

10.52

10.73

Specialist Consultation

13.92

11.30

9.78

10.89

12.86

12.20

12.78

11.48

13.25

12.57

11.37

9.25

(4) Yes, the MOU will be forwarded separately to the honourable senator.

(5) (a) The total amount paid to the HIC by the Department of Veterans' Affairs for the processing of accounts for each of the past 3 years is as follows:

1999/2000

2000/2001

2001/2002

$M14.344

$M14.354

$M16.824

These figures cover all service types, for example not only doctors' services but also payment to allied health professionals, community nurses and hospitals.

(b) The following figures are the total number of medical services paid in the last 3 financial years.

1999/2000

2000/2001

2001/2002

11,346,260

11,858,794

11,919,510

These figures represent services by medical providers (ie. general practitioners and specialists). A breakdown by Medicare item number is not currently available.

(6) and (7) The current MOU was due for renewal on 30 November 2001. However, provision exists for an extension to enable re-negotiation which is currently underway. The provision of services presently provided by the HIC will not be put out to tender as they will be incorporated into the current renegotiation of the agreement.

(8) The Department of Health and Ageing pays for processing Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme transactions as part of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme script processing. The average cost per transaction is 25 cents.