A win for patients as Pathology Bulk Billing items stay

A win for patients as Pathology Bulk Billing items stayThe announcement tonight of the reversal of the cuts to the bulk billing incentives for pathology patients in the 2017 Federal Budget is great news which will result in more affordable and accessible pathology services for all Australians, the peak group representing private pathology services has said.

Under the Budget, the December 2015 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) cuts to the bulk billing incentives for pathology are being reversed and reinstated as a Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) rebate for patients.

The Chief Executive Officer of Pathology Australia, Liesel Wett, said the Budget announcement would overturn a cut to affordable patient services that was unnecessary, potentially disastrous for the sector and not supported by the Australian population.

“Australians showed their support for better access to healthcare through the reinstatement of their Medicare rebate with 600 000 people signing our Don’t Kill Bulk Bill petition last year to stop cuts to their rebates for pathology. And they won. Healthcare has won,” Ms Wett said.

“The reversal of the bulk billing incentive cuts will result in more affordable and accessible pathology services to the Australian community – essential medical services in healthcare, with 70 per cent of medical decisions and 100 per cent of cancer diagnosis relying on the outcomes of pathology tests.

“This is a win for patients. It is their rebate and puts $485 million back into pathology services for patients. It’s a great outcome and is supported by the entire pathology and indeed, the broader, healthcare sector.”

Ms Wett said the pathology sector had been concerned patients might be prevented from receiving their diagnosis because of cost.

“Pathology is essential in the management of most diseases, especially chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, hepatitis and HIV,” Ms Wett said.

The Government also announced a strengthening of the compliance model within the exiting legislation for pathology collection services.

“We are cautious as to what this would mean, but I’m sure everyone in the health sector – pathology services, GPs who refer to pathology services, and consumers receiving services – supports the correct implementation of existing compliance regimes.” she said.

“The sector awaits further details of the impact of this budget item and any clarification resulting from this measure.

“The Pathology sector will continue to work with GP and specialist referrers as well as consumers on what this measure will mean. Addressing this issue, along with the reinstatement of the bulk billing incentive, will ensure all Australians will continue to access world-class, high-quality pathology services at affordable and accessible prices.”

 

A win for patients as Pathology Bulk Billing items stay

 

Progress on Cancer Register Bills welcomed

Pathology Australia today welcomed the work of Parliament with the tabling of the National Cancer Screening Register bills in the Senate with amendments to ensure the privacy of patients listed on the Register being actioned.

The Government has introduced the amendments as part of its commitment to strengthening the register and ensuring patients’ information is protected and secure. This is a direct result of the Senate inquiry initiated by the Community Affairs Legislation Committee.

Liesel Wett, CEO of Pathology Australia, said today that the amendments are definite improvements and will help to ensure progress on the implementation of this important register.

“The Government has acted swiftly to address some concerns which were raised over the security of data and personal information,” Ms Wett said.

“Pathology Australia is a strong supporter of the National Cancer Screening Register and the Government’s prompt action in addressing these concerns is a sign of commitment to the register.

“This register will help to save the lives of many Australians by facilitating the increased detection, treatment and prevention of some of the country’s biggest killers.

“It is an important cancer prevention measure and every effort should be made to ensure it is implemented without delay.”

Ms Wett said the Senate inquiry examining the issue had also recommended that the Bills to establish the register be passed.

Pathology Australia see the register as a significant and important public health initiative, and have consistently urged the Parliament to ensure there is no delay to the implementation of the changes to women’s health screening in this country.

“The critical role pathologists play in diagnosing and detecting cancer is pivotal to the register’s success,” Ms Wett said.

“Pathologists are an essential part of the overall process involved in managing cancer and the register will reflect this by monitoring the effectiveness, quality and safety of screening and diagnoses associated with bowel cancer and cervical cancer. We need to stick to implementation timelines for this significant and exciting new treatment of Cancer screening.”

The new register will replace eight separate State and Territory cervical cancer registers and the current bowel screening system.

“Centralising these registers makes sense and will increase efficiency as well as helping to better co-ordinate treatment,” she said.

“A centralised cervical cancer and bowel screening register can only further improve the rates of early detection. This will further cement Australia’s position as a world leader in pathology services assisting in the early detection of cancers and helping to save more lives.”

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AMA agrees with Pathology – Action must be taken on Collection Centres

Pathology Australia CEO Liesel Wett said today she was pleased the AMA had publicly raised with all Australians the issue of the high and above market rents being paid for Pathology Collection Centres.

Ms Wett said that presently consumers were unaware of rents being paid.

“We support the AMA on this position – we want to see efforts to stamp out rental or other arrangements that seek to influence the referral patterns of GPs,” she said.

“The solution proposed is 100% consistent with the AMA’s policy on Medical Practitioners’ Relationships with Industry 2010 (revised 2012).

“These changes, which the Pathology sector is working collaboratively on with both government and other stakeholders such as the GP groups, are needed for sustainable health care delivery into the future.”

Ms Wett said that by clarifying the existing regulation, both GP referrers and pathology providers would be crystal clear on how to comply with the law, the regulation, and indeed how it would be monitored.

“This will also serve to ensure everyone including patients know about these arrangements, and where appropriate, the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services have the means to enforce the legislation. It also means that patients will continue to be able to access quality, world class pathology services when and where they need them at the right price.

“As the AMA knows, this practice is not new. By the AMA’s own admission, this is costing around $150 million a year, and has been for many years.

“That’s why the Pathology sector has been working collaboratively for some time to ensure we get a solution on this issue. The AMA is supporting a solution and policy changes as is Pathology Australia. The difference is that PA is supporting the Government’s proposed solution which included consultation with general practice.”

Ms Wett said Pathology Australia and its members looked forward to continuing to work with its GP colleagues and the Turnbull Government on the implementation of the solution to this long-standing issue.

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Submission to Senate Inquiry – National Cancer Screening Register Bill 2016 and National Cancer Screening Register (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2016

Pathology Australia (PA) has made a submission to the Senate Inquiry – National Cancer Screening Register Bill 2016 and National Cancer Screening Register (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2016.

As there are no publically available terms of reference for this inquiry, PA’s submission focuses on:

  • The essential role of Pathology in the transition to a renewed National Cervical Screening Program;
  • the role that Pathology plays in the diagnosis of cervical cancer, and the significant changes to the Pathology workforce in continuing to play this role following the Cervical Cancer Screening Renewal in May 2017;
  • PA’s support for no delay of the implementation of changes to the National Cervical Screening Program; and
  • PA’s support for the National Cancer Screening Registry through the mechanisms of Parliament. Pathology Australia, on behalf of all private Pathology providers in Australia, supports the passage of the Bills as outlined above. We believe there should be no delay to the implementation of the National Cervical Screening Program post May 2017. The Registry is an essential component of the National Cervical Screening Program. We believe the Bills provide the legislation to put in place the appropriate patient privacy and confidentiality mechanisms that are seen in other parts of the public – private partnership that is Australia’s healthcare system.  The submission outlines our position and recommendations.

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Cancer Register Right for Women

The announcement by the Federal Government of a new National Cancer Screening Register has been welcomed by Pathology Australia as an important first step in Australia leading the way in the management of women’s health globally.

Liesel Wett, CEO of Pathology Australia, said the Register, which is aimed at saving more lives through increased detection, treatment and prevention of some of the country’s biggest killers, was an important cancer prevention measure.

“This is a great initiative in women’s health and more broadly in public health generally,” Ms Wett said today.

“The Register underscores the critical role pathologists play in diagnosing and detecting this disease. It recognises that pathologists are an essential part of the overall process involved in managing cancer.

“The Register will monitor the effectiveness, quality and safety of screening and diagnoses associated with bowel cancer and cervical cancer.”

Ms Wett said the Register will replace eight separate State and Territory cervical cancer registers and the current bowel screening system.

“Centralising these registers makes sense and will increase efficiency as well as helping to better co-ordinate treatment,” she said.

“Having the cervical cancer registers and the bowel screening registers brought together into the one central Register can only further improve the rates of early detection. This will further cement Australia’s position as a world leader in the early detection of cancers. And of course such early detection helps to save more lives.”

Cervical cancer claims the lives of 250 women a year despite being one of the most preventable cancers. Currently, 80 per cent of women with cervical cancer have not been screened or have not had regular screening.

“Pathology Australia sees the formation of the National Register as an opportunity to support women on the importance of undergoing screening for cervical cancer. We need to lift the rate of screening and save more women’s lives,” she said.

The Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, has announced that legislation to make this public health strategy a reality is being presented to the Parliament for debate and support.

 

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Patients win in Pathology announcements

Pathology Australia has today welcomed the Coalition’s election policy announcement ensuring affordable access to world-class quality pathology services for all Australians.

The Coalition has this evening released a clear statement that provides the means for the pathology sector to more readily maintain the current high rate of bulk billing of pathology tests for their patients.

Liesel Wett, CEO of Pathology Australia said: “We have been working in collaboration with Government on a solution that will ensure the sustainability of the sector. The announcement by the Coalition today includes both a deferment to the changes to the bulk billing incentive and a workable solution to the high rents being paid for pathology collection centres. This in turn, will allow the sector to maintain current billing practices, in the best interests of patients”.

“The commitment by the Coalition to ensure affordable access to pathology services is in the best interests of patients, the pathology sector and the Government. It will ensure that competition is based on service and quality and will foster a more diversified sector where patient choice will be enhanced”.

As a result of the announcement, Pathology Australia says thank you to nearly 600,000 Australians across the country who have signed the Don’t Kill Bulk Bill petition, assisting the pathology sector to have patients’ voices heard, and for the Coalition to provide a means to address their legitimate concerns. Pathology Australia’s petition will be closed today.

“This is a significant announcement for patients and the pathology sector. The pathology profession will continue to strive towards highest quality and efficiency levels, in line with historical performance to date and as recognized in the recently released report on the sector by Ernst & Young1.This is a great win for patients and for the future sustainability and vibrancy of the pathology sector in Australia”, said Ms Wett.

Pathology is an essential medical service in the healthcare system. Seventy per cent of medical decisions and 100% of cancer diagnosis rely on pathology tests.

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Pathology campaign points to bloody election battle

Top 10 Government marginal seat MPs could lose their seat over issue

MELBOURNE: Over half a million Australians have signed the Don’t Kill Bulk Bill petition opposing the Federal Government’s bulk billing incentive funding cut to pathology. The grassroots response in just 8 weeks shows this will be a major election issue. The number of petition signatures in the top ten marginal seat electorates is greater than their margin in the 2013 election.

Petition sign ups to Don’t Kill Bulk Bill campaign in top 10 Government marginal seats

Electorate MP Vote margin in 2013 election Number of petition signatures in electorate
Barton (NSW) Nikolas Varvaris 489 4,821
Petrie (QLD) Luke Howarth 871 4,354
Eden-Monaro (NSW) Peter Hendy 1,085 3,402
Dobell (NSW) Karen McNamara 1,166 1,909
Capricornia (QLD) Michelle Landry 1,305 4,785
Reid (NSW) Craig Laundy 1,460 1,654
O’Connor (WA) Rick Wilson 1,570 2,140
Lyons (TAS) Eric Hutchinson 1,631 2,628
Braddon (TAS) Brett Whiteley 3,380 6,004
Gilmore (NSW) Ann Sudmalis 4,807 8,310
  • Patients are worried about these cuts; at the current rate by 1st July over a million patients will have signed the petition.
  • Clinical demand for medical tests is growing each year to prevent or manage disease, but funding is continually cut.
  • The Government’s bulk billing incentive fee cut amounts to a cut in funding for pathology of 4% was dropped on the sector like a bombshell.
  • Australian pathology is cheaper than comparable countries including USA and Canada according to a new EY report showing Australian pathology provided Government with $2.4 billion in savings in 2014/15. The Grattan Institute February report failed to account for the drastic impact of ‘coning’ on pathology payments – its international cost comparisons were not correct.
  • Pathology companies cannot absorb these cuts. Services will close and patient co-payments must be introduced to meet the funding shortfall.
  • This will affect all Australians but will hit hardest the elderly, pregnant women and those who are already sick.

Dr Nick Musgrave, President of Pathology Australia is available for interview. Patient case studies of people affected by the cuts available nationally.

Contact Annette Stenhouse 0416 861 732

160428_med- Pathology campaign points to bloody election battle

New EY report: Australian private pathology saved tax payers $2.4bn in 2014-15

CANBERRA: The Australian private Pathology sector delivered cost savings to Government of $2.4bn last financial year including a $2bn efficiency dividend from productivity improvements plus $450m worth of unpaid tests according to a new report released today.

Costs to Government would have been $4.9 billion without the Pathology industry delivering productivity gains and unpaid services.

The Estimating the Pathology Productivity Dividend report by EY examined the costs and productivity of the Australian pathology sector and the dividend efficiencies delivered. The review of 17 years of pathology figures includes extensive primary source data provided by the Pathology industry detailing for the first time the level of services provided free of charge and reveals the true cost of pathology services.

 

Key findings

  • $450m worth of testing was provided free of charge during 2014-2015 due to buy 3 tests get the rest free coning payment arrangement.
  • Tests provided free of charge by the Pathology industry have increased from 5% of pathology tests in 1999-00 to 17% of tests performed today.
  • Productivity improvements delivered $2bn in cost savings to Government.
  • The Pathology industry delivered an average annual growth in productivity of 4.3% compared with the Australian industry average of 1.5%
  • Australian pathology is cheaper than comparable countries including USA and Canada. The Grattan Institute’s February report failed to account for the impact of coning.

 

Pathology testing requested by GPs and specialists is the mainstay of preventive health and early detection of disease. Over the last 19 years the number of pathology services has risen from less than 48.7million per year to more than 128.8 million.

 

“This is the first time that the Pathology industry’s complex funding system has been closely examined using commercial data from within the industry itself. Our analysis includes details of the coning system, which has a significant impact that has not been accounted for in previous reports” said report author Dr Tony Sherbon.

 

Links to the full media release and EY report are below:

260422 MR New EY report Australian private pathology saved tax payers $2bn in 201415

EY Pathology Australia 20160426 – Final Report

 

 

New report: pathology testing can reduce the impact of diabetes

Pathology testing saves lives and money according to a new report released today. Half the Australian population had a pathology test in the last 12 months. According to the report a third of the rise in tests requests is from doctors as they seek to prevent or minimise the impact of disease.

Click on the link here to download the full report or download an infographic of key findings here.

Pathology testing is central to controlling important, growing chronic diseases including diabetes. Managing diabetes without pathology has been compared to trying to drive a car without a steering wheel.

One in two GP visits involves a request for pathology tests. 60% of GP referrals for pathology relate to preventative health strategies and management of chronic illness. The report notes that 32% of the increase in clinical demand for pathology is due to preventative health treatments.

The Economic Value of Pathology is a meta-analysis conducted by the Centre for International Economics that examines three key health areas: diabetes, heart attack and colorectal cancer. Pathology is practiced in laboratories and is a largely unseen area of healthcare. The report was commissioned by Pathology Awareness Australia to quantify the value of investment in pathology.

70% of medical decisions rely on information from pathology testing and all cancer diagnosis is made by pathology investigations.

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