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Wednesday, 24 November 1971
Page: 3550


Dr SOLOMON (DENISON, TASMANIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that the most common fee for multiple testing of blood or serum on a multi-channel analyser has been reduced from Si 5 to S5 whilst the fee for a single manual analysis remains $7? Is it also a fact that the common fee for blood counts on an automated haematology system has been reduced from about $8 to $2.50? Does this drastic change in benefits reflect the opposition of the Australian Medical Association to a greatly improved technology which when operated by non-profit organisations competes with individual pathologists? Is not this change in most common fees a retrograde step which increases the cost of medicine to the Government and to the community?


Dr FORBES - The most common tee for the type of tests mentioned by the honourable gentleman, that is blood or serum tests on a multi-channel analyser, was reduced from $15 to $5 as from 1st November this year. The most common fee for the manual test remains unchanged at from $5 to $7 depending on the State in which it takes place. I make the point in passing that where there are multiple tests by the manual method there is not a repetition of the same common fee for each of them. This represents the economics of automated technology and was a decision made on the recommendation of the Medical Benefits Schedule Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives of the Australian Medical Association, the benefit funds and the Department of Health. This step certainly did not represent opposition by the AMA, and as far as I am aware there has been no opposition by the AMA. Contrary to the point implied by the honourable gentleman in the last part of his question I regard this as the very opposite of a retrograde step. I see it as a great benefit which will involve considerable savings to both the Government and the community.







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