In the weeks leading up to the 2022-23 Federal Budget, the AACP was in contact with Federal MPs and Senators to set out the priorities the AACP considered were important to both the Budget discussions and for future policy discussions beyond the Budget and following the upcoming Federal Election.
These priorities include:
  • The permanent inclusion of all telehealth consultation items in the MBS – both video and telephone – to ensure equity of access to patients, particularly those without access to video facilities or reliable internet.
  • Maintenance of the existing Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item structure for consultant physicians and paediatricians, without the introduction of an untested time-tiered structure, to assure ongoing access to medical services provided by consultant physicians and paediatricians.
  • Recognition of the need for specific assessment items for patients with multiple complex medical conditions, particularly for paediatric patients.
  • Support for education and training delivered in their private practices by consultant physicians and paediatricians to medical students, interns and registrars, particularly in rural and regional areas, for which no tangible support is presently provided.
The AACP’s priorities briefing document that was sent to the politicians can be found on the AACP website.
There remain matters that were not addressed in the Budget and the AACP is continuing its advocacy for:
  • Telehealth – retention of all telephone items
  • no time-tiering of consultant physician and paediatrician attendance items
  • creation of additional items that address the needs of patients of consultant physicians and paediatricians
  • a comprehensive program of support for training delivered by consultant physicians.
2022-23 Federal Budget Announcements
The Government’s 2022-23 Budget Announcements relevant to consultant physicians and paediatricians included:
  • a pledge to review the Modified Monash Model, which is relevant to rural, regional and remote health issues and determination of Federal Government payments.
  • a commitment of $16 million over four years to establish dedicated endometriosis and pelvic pain clinics
  • a pledge to spend $2.4 billion on new and amended listings on the PBS, including treatments for breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, severe eczema, asthma, HIV infection and heart failure
  • a reduction in the PBS safety net threshold from July by the equivalent of 12 fully priced scripts for concession card holders and the equivalent of two fully priced scripts for non-concessional patients
  • a change to the Medicare Levy low-income thresholds which are, from 1 July 2021, to change as follows:
  • For singles $23,365 (increased from $23,226)
  • For families $39,402 (increased from $39,167) plus $3,619 per dependent (increased from $3,597)
  • For single seniors and pensioners $36,925 (increased from $36,705)
  • For family seniors and pensioners $51,401 (increased from $51,094) plus $3,619 per dependent (increased from $3,597)
  • the permanent inclusion of telehealth in the MBS (announced prior to the Budget) with a commitment of $512 million, although this included access to only one telephone telehealth item for consultant physicians and paediatricians.
  • Allocation of $296.5 million over four years towards the 10 Year Rural Health Strategy which includes:
  • $99.3 million to fund an increase in the number of medical students studying in rural and remote locations
  • $36.2 million to fund two new university Departments of Rural Health in the Southwest and Goldfields regions of Western Australia to support rural medical training
  • $14.8 million to support Charles Sturt University to deliver a Rural Clinical School.
Medicare changes relevant to the practices of consultant physicians and paediatricians included:
  • $66 million towards deregulating access to Medicare funded MRI services in Monash Modified Model 2–7 areas
  • $32.6 million for positron emission tomography (PET) for initial staging for patients diagnosed with rare and uncommon cancers
  • $14 million for an amendment to the current MRI of the liver item to include all cancer types that have potentially spread to the liver
  • review and reprogramming of neurostimulators for chronic pain by videoconference
  • new items for remote programming and monitoring for deep brain stimulation and cardiac internal loop recorders
  • new items for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) in low-risk populations and CEP embolic net insertion
  • provision of $4.2 billion over four years towards the COVID-19 response, including $977.4 million over two years to support continued access to vaccines.
If you wish to read more detail on the Federal Health Budget, including all the 2022-23 Health Budget Papers, they can be accessed here.