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News & Trends - Medical Technology

Is Private Healthcare Australia derailing the Prostheses List reforms process?

Health Industry Hub | July 27, 2022 |
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MedTech News: Private Healthcare Australia (PHA) has put forward a complaint letter voicing how it was misled by the former Morrison government on the promised Prostheses List (PL) reforms. The letter was addressed to Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher, and copied to Health Minister, Mark Butler.

The PHA refers to ‘the secret deal’ made by the former Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, with the Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) in March 2022. The PHA said that Greg Hunt reneged on his earlier promise of $140 million savings from the PL reforms during 2022-23 to an updated figure of $90 million under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MTAA.

The PHA sought legal advice as to whether the MoU could be challenged in court. The organisation wrote to Professor Brendan Murphy, the Secretary of the Department of Health, questioning the MoU status. According to the PHA, Professor Murphy said the department did not believe the agreement between Greg Hunt and the MTAA was legally binding.

MTAA CEO, Ian Burgess, told Health Industry Hub “MTAA’s signed four-year agreement with the Commonwealth is the result of the most comprehensive reforms to the Prostheses List ever. MTAA recognises there is still far more that needs to be done to ensure the cuts insurers will receive are actually passed onto patients in the form of lower actual premiums.

“MTAA welcomed Minister Butler’s election commitment to uphold MTAA’s signed four-year agreement with the Commonwealth. This will ensure the final reform package benefits patients and not just insurance companies’ bottom line. MTAA is disappointed, but not surprised, that the corporate insurance lobby is continuing to frustrate the reform process in an attempt to roll back the doctor choice and patient access guarantee that is provided by the Prostheses List. The interests of the insurance industry should never trump the interests of patients or the health sector.”

Mark Butler, Minister for Health and Aged Care, is currently being briefed on the status of the PL reforms with a view to determining the government’s policy on the reforms.

Mr Burgess continued “All key participants in our private health system welcomed the MTAA/Commonwealth agreement, including the AMA, Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) and the Consumer Heath Forum. There is only one group, the corporate insurance lobby, that opposes the agreement and is trying to derail the PL reform process. This is all while corporate insurers are literally making a motza at the expense of their customers and our private health system. The latest APRA data showed that insurers raked in their highest profits ever at $2 billion, 108% higher than last year.”

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