Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Opposition moves against Government's new pathology fees



Download PDFDownload PDF

P A R L I A M E N T O F A U S T R A L I A

H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S

PETER SHACK, M.P. F ED ER A L MEMBER FOR T AN G N EY

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

r.U. D U A l«V«, S U I T E 8, G A T E W A v

M E L V I L L E C I T Y C E N T R E B O O R A G O O N T E L . (091 3 6 4 5 5 5 4

F A X : (091 3 6 4 9971

MEDIA RELEASE.

NOVEMBER, 1988. 85/88.

OPPOSITION MOVES AGAINST GOVERNMENT'S NEW PATHOLOGY FEES

The Federal Opposition has committed itself to moving a motion for the disallowance of the Pathology Services Table new Interim Schedule due to take effect from today, 1st November.

Shadow Minister for Health, Peter Shack, said the move came as a result of growing and widespread concern that the new schedule represents an unwarranted attack on the provision of first class pathology services for the community.

"When the Pathology Services Advisory Committee (PSAC) was established in October 1987 its brief was to provide for a more rapid and flexible procedure for reviewing and revising the Pathology Services Table and associated fees for Medicare rebate purposes.

"But what we are seeing is complete chaos as a result of the Minister for Community Services and Health, Dr Blewett, accepting PSAC's ill-considered new interim schedule.

"The plain fact of the matter is that PSAC has failed, and failed badly.

"It did not do its sums and calculate the impact of the changes before making the recommendations contained in the determination signed by the Minister for Community Services and Health on 8th September, 1988.

"The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) and the Australian Association of Pathology Practices (AAPP) supported the PSAC review in principle since their common goal is to see reform of the Pathology Services Table which will deter unethical pathologists from over-servicing, but leave the average ethical pathology practice alone.

"And, these professional bodies believed they were supported in having such an expectation of the PSAC findings by statements of the Minister for Community Services and Health that the changes would be revenue neutral and only cut down on abuse of the

system.

"However, when the new schedule was 'modelled' by pathologists they found that its effect would be to reduce private pathology incomes by 15 to 20 per cent and public pathology incomes by up to 30 per cent. *

This modelling has been verified by both Coopers, Lybrand, W.D. Scott, and by officers of the Department of Community Services and Health itself.

In short, the Government has made a huge mistake and the financial impact of the new schedule is far more serious than it intended, or the pathologists were led to expect.

-2-

i v

"Not only that, but the Government has admitted its mistake and yet is refusing to delay the implementation of the new schedule.

"This attitude is totally consistent with the Government's belligerent stance towards doctors and pharmacists.

"It is also in keeping with its cost containment measures currently affecting Medicare rebates for medical services and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme subsidies.

"Calls by the RCPA and the AAPP for the Government to defer the introduction of the new schedule pending its restructuring and re-costing have fallen on deaf ears.

"By moving for the disallowance of the Interim Schedule the Opposition is seeking to buy breathing space both for patients who could face extra out of pocket expenses, and for pathology practices threatened with bankruptcy.

"In the interests of seeing that patients receive the first class pathology services to which they are entitled the Government must not only admit its mistake, but be willing to go back to the drawing board.

"This is not a case of gaps between pathology fees and Medicare rebates resulting from pathologists lifting their charges.

"Instead, the Government is creating a gap by withdrawing rebates to the detriment of the provision of effective diagnostic services.

"Under this schedule there are a number of serious anomalies such as in clinical microbiology where blood culture test rebates will barely cover the cost of culture media for patients with septicaemia.

"In the investigation of suspected endocartisis, for example, multiple samples of blood must be collected on sequential days.

"But the economic imperatives of the new schedule would be to minimise the number of samples and the use of culture media.

"These are just a couple of examples of other undesirable features of the schedule which could be directly prejudicial to good patient care.

"If the Government has any commitment at all to seeing the delivery of quality health care it must delay the introduction of the new schedule and address the many serious issues which it raises."

Further information: Peter Shack/Delys Newman (062) 77 4169.