19 June 2016
Labor’s commitment to reverse cuts to the MBS pathology bulk billing incentives welcomed
Catholic Health Australia (CHA) welcomes today’s announcement that a Shorten Labor government would not proceed with the removal of the bulk billing incentive items for pathology tests.
CHA CEO, Suzanne Greenwood said today that “this proposal will remove some of the current financial pressure facing the sector and will help to ensure current levels of bulk billing are maintained.”
“Too many vulnerable and disadvantaged patients are already not accessing necessary health services due to high out of pocket costs for GP and specialist visits. We should not be adding to this burden,” Mrs Greenwood added.
“We welcome this measure as a recognition of the challenges facing pathology, and in particular the not-for-profit and independent providers.”
“The not-for-profit pathology sector is currently under extreme financial pressure as a result of ongoing cuts to MBS rebates, a freeze in MBS indexation since 1998, unilateral reductions in benefits paid by private health insurers and rapid increases in collection centre rent costs.”
“The removal of the bulk billing incentives later this year, as proposed by the current government, will be particularly challenging for the not-for-profit and independent sector. Whilst this may be offset to some extent by reform of collection centre rents, which CHA has welcomed, the benefits of rent reform will particularly help large corporate providers,” Mrs Greenwood added.
“If we are not to end up with a duopoly of 2 big corporates in pathology, whoever wins the election on July 2 must provide a funding framework that will ensure that not-for-profit pathology and independent providers are able to take their place in a diverse sector that continues to provide Australians with access to world-leading pathology services,” said Mrs Greenwood.
“Not-for-profit and independent providers are particularly committed to investment in innovation, research and education as well as the provision of services to regional communities,” added Mrs Greenwood.
Catholic Health Australia represents Australia’s largest non-government grouping of hospitals, aged and community care services, providing approximately 10% of hospital and aged care services in Australia, including around 30 % of private hospital care as well as around 5% of public hospital care.