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Budget 2009: Modernising Medicare and supporting higher quality care.

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Minister for Health and Ageing


12 May 2009

Modernising Medicare and Supporting Higher Quality Care

This year’s Budget will modernise Medicare to ensure that rebates encourage higher quality, evidence based practice and better reflect the time and complexity of services.

Advances in techniques and technology have resulted in a number of medical procedures being able to be performed much more quickly, safely and efficiently.

However, this is not being reflected in how Medicare pays for these services. For instance, cataract surgery can now often be performed safely in 15-20 minutes, yet the cost to Medicare for the most commonly claimed item is around $700 - reflecting an era when this surgery took two to three times longer to perform.

The Government will adjust a number of Medicare fees to a more appropriate level so that there is a lower schedule fee for shorter and less complex common procedures, and a higher fee for complex, time intensive procedures. This will save $153.4 million over four years and will help to ensure the long-term sustainability of Medicare for all Australians.

The Government will also introduce changes to the Better access to psychiatrists, psychologists and GPs Medicare items to improve care for patients:

• a new Medicare item will encourage GPs to undertake extra mental health skills training, and the requirements for treatment plans will be revised to ensure that patients receive high quality care appropriate to their needs; and • the Government will introduce mandatory continuing professional development

requirements for general psychologists, appropriately trained social workers and occupational therapists providing psychological services under Medicare, so that patients have access to high quality services provided by appropriately skilled practitioners.

For all inquiries please contact the Minister's office - 02 6277 7220