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Most common fees



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JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY THE COMMONWEALTH MINISTER FOR HEALTH,

DR. AoJo FORBES, AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL

ASSOCIATION, SIR CLARENCE RIEGER

The Commonwealth M inister for Health, Dr. A.J. F orbes, and the Federal

President of the Australian M edical A ssociation, Sir Clarence R ieger, to-day

released a joint statem ent regarding the discussions between the Government and

the A ssociation on the question of m ost common fe e s. The joint statem ent by

Dr. Forbes and Sir Clarence followed a m eeting yesterday between the M inister,

the Federal Executive of the A.M.A. and the chairman of the Council of the Royal

Australian College of General P ractition ers, Dr. David Game.

In their statem ent, the M inister and Sir Clarence said:

"The m eeting yesterday followed discussions within the m edical profession on

the im plications of the proposed lis t of common fees being used as the basis on

which m edical benefits would be paid. These discussion s within the profession

had centred particularly on the proposed common fees and rebates for ser v ic es

which w ere perform ed both by general practitioners and sp e cia lists.

"At the m eeting the A.M.A. representatives reaffirm ed that it was current A.M.A.

policy that there should be differential m edical benefit rebates for se r v ic e s by

sp ecia lists but that these differential rebates should apply only when a patient

was referred by a doctor to a sp ecia list practising within his speciality. The

A.M.A. rep resentatives had str e sse d that this policy was in pursuance of the

A.M .A's overall objective that the voluntary health insurance system should continue

and that it should provide m ore satisfactory financial coverage to the patients of

both sp ecia lists and general practitioners.

"Some section s of the m edical profession, particularly among general practitioners,

have expressed concern that the extension of equal financial protection to the

patients of sp ecia lists might ultim ately prejudice the role of general practice

within the profession. The object of the m eeting yesterday was to place these

considerations before the Government and to d iscu ss in detail whether any

revision s could be made to the lis t of m ost common fees which would reduce the

fear of general practitioners that general practice may suffer as a result of the

introduction of differential rebates.

2.

"The M inister made it clear to the A.M.A. representatives that while the

Government was willing to consider new factual information on fees charged

by general practitioners and sp ecia lists it was firm ly committed to the principle

that patients should receive m edical benefit rebates based on actual m edical fe e s.

The Government was however w illing to review any m atters of fact about m edical

fe e s in the light of any new factual information the A.M.A. might have. A joint

A .M .A .-C ollege of General P ractitioners and Department of Health working party

began work im m ediately to make a thorough examination of m atters raised by

the A.M.A.

"The working party has now reported to the M inister and the President of the

A.M .βίο that, in term s of the Government's policy as se t out above, it has

reviewed the lis t of item s previously agreed on as the item s for which sp ecia lists

and general practitioners in fact charge differential fe e s. As a result of this

further examination any change in this lis t would be so sm all that alteration was

not recommended. '

"Dr. Forbes said that as a result of the working party's report and, having

regard to the Government's objective of ensuring that patients should not have

to pay m ore than $5 for any m edical ser v ic e where the doctor charged the m ost

common fe e , there was no basis for alteration of the lis t of item s for which

differential rebates would be provided.

"The working party also began an examination of som e item s within the lis t of

m ost common fe e s on which the A.M.A. had additional factual information. These

item s w ere relatively few in number, they did not particularly relate to ser v ic es

perform ed both by general practitioners and sp ecia lists and it was not p ossible at

this stage to reach finality on them. The working party w ill, however, continue

its examination of these few item s and, if n ecessary, adjustments would be made.

Subject to any such adjustm ents, the M inister and the Federal President of the

A.M.A. w ere agreed that the lis t of common fees previously agreed was a true

and workable basis for the new Health Benefits Plan."

CANBERRA

18 March 1970.