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.”