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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

AMA condemns insurer groups’ unjust attack in the Four Corners report

Health Industry Hub | April 12, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has fired back at the ABC Four Corners report on spinal fusion, spinal cord stimulation and billing, slamming it as “disappointing and misleading.” Critically, producers of the segment failed to offer an opportunity for the AMA, Neuromodulation Society of Australia and New Zealand (NSANZ) or Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) to provide input before its broadcast.

“We know many members of the profession have been distressed by yet another story of this nature, following last year’s stories on Medicare fraud,” the AMA said.

The AMA highlighted its efforts to prompt a “measured and rational” response from the government and the Department of Health and Aged Care, countering pressures from private health insurers and certain consumer groups advocating for the recall and suspension of spinal cord stimulators, as well as the potential suspension of particular procedures.

“In contrast to sensationalist claims, no other country’s healthcare system has any plans to deregister this therapy for either lack of efficacy or complication rates. Medical devices are appropriately, carefully and tightly regulated by the TGA in Australia to ensure safety for all Australians,” the NSANZ emphasised in a statement.

Despite facing credibility issues after levelling false allegations against GPs for Medicare fraud of $8 billion annually, Dr Margaret Faux, the founder of commercial enterprises Synapse and Kirontech, was included as an expert in the Four Corners report.

The AMA criticised Private Healthcare Australia, asserting that instead of rushing to judgment based on the Synapse/Kirontech report, they should have collaborated with the Department of Health “to look at the data and have it properly assessed against MBS requirements – in consultation with clinicians who understand what is involved in a procedure”.

“The allegations made on Four Corners appear to have been seen for what they are – an unjustified attack on the medical profession by insurer groups. The government has reasonably asked for an update on the TGA review of spinal cord stimulators, while the department is likely to focus on consulting with relevant medical groups to discuss the operation of relevant MBS items to make sure they are fit-for-purpose, particularly as many were changed following the MBS Review,” the AMA said in a statement.

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