GP Network News Issue 12 Number 43
Changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) commenced on 1 November 2012 to allow GPs to directly refer children under 16 years of age for Medicare-funded MRI scans.
Following extensive lobbying by the AMA, the 2011-12 Federal Budget allocated funding to allow for GP-referred MRI. The AMA has worked closely with the Government on the implementation process.
AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said that GPs could now request Medicare-funded MRIs for all patients under 16 years of age for clinically appropriate indications.
“Under previous arrangements, Medicare-funded MRI scans could only be requested by specialists, which could delay appropriate diagnosis and treatment,” Dr Hambleton said.
“This new arrangement will improve access to care, reduce costs to the health system, and provide further support for GPs to provide better care for patients.
From 1 November 2013, GPs will be able to request MRIs for all patients over 16 years of age for clinically appropriate indications.
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The AMA is pleased to advise that the General Practice Registrars Association and the National GP Supervisors Association have reached a final agreement on the National Minimum Terms and Conditions for GP registrars for 2013.
The agreement will come into effect on 1 January 2013 and covers GP registrars employed in GP 1 and GP 2 terms.
The AMA convenes these negotiations every two years and works to broker an agreement that delivers benefits to registrars and practices alike. The AMA congratulates both the NGPSA and GPRA on the spirit of mutual goodwill that was displayed throughout the latest round of negotiations.
The AMA is currently notifying regional training providers and other interested parties of the new agreement. A copy of the 2013 agreement is at https://ama.com.au/gp-registrar-minimum-terms-and-conditions-2013.
A backlash from specialists has thrown the takeover of Australian Defence Force health services by a Medibank Private subsidiary into crisis, with less than 10 per cent of practitioners signing up to controversial provider agreements.
The early results of a poll of members currently being conducted by the AMA indicates less than one in 10 specialists treating Defence personnel have accepted the terms of preferred provider arrangements set by Medibank Health Solutions (MHS), which earlier this year won a $1.3 billion contract to provide health care services to Defence Force personnel over the next four years.
AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton has warned the Federal Government that the health care of Defence personnel is being put in jeopardy by the new arrangements and should be abandoned.
“The ADF has given a clear commitment to defence personnel that they will receive high quality health services in a timely fashion,” Dr Hambleton said in a letter to the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon. “On the evidence available, the new arrangements being implemented will not sustain this commitment, and access to health services for our valued serving personnel will be compromised.
The AMA President said that in order to be accepted as a preferred provider, MHS required specialists to accept a significant cut in fees and acquiesce to conditions that had the potential to limit patient choice, constrain clinical independence and compromise patient confidentiality.
Under the new arrangements, which will apply to 100 barracks and bases serving 80,000 personnel, military doctors will no longer be able to refer patients to a local specialist of their choosing.
Instead, Medibank will encourage referral to a practitioner on a centralised database of preferred specialist providers.
“The AMA is very concerned that the new MHS arrangements will reduce access to medical services for Defence personnel,” Dr Hambleton said. “In this regard, a number of members have already written to the AMA advising that they will not take up the MHS offer.”
Dr Hambleton has urged doctors to consider their position carefully before accepting the MHS offer.
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The AMA applauds the Future Fund’s decision to review its tobacco investments.
In a letter to Future Fund Chair, Mr David Gonski AC, late last week, the AMA outlined health, moral and economic arguments against the use of Australian taxpayers’ money to benefit Big Tobacco.
AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, said today that the compelling evidence that smoking kills people should mean that the Future Fund review would be brief and could have only one outcome – to stop the tobacco investments immediately.
Professor Dobb said that the evidence is overwhelming that tobacco use kills people, destroys people’s health and shortens lives, and has a devastating effect on families when a family member falls ill as a result of smoking. It is irrational to have the good work that the Federal Government has done in tobacco plain packaging and tax measures undermined by unhealthy Future Fund investments that help support the tobacco industry.
The AMA is ready and willing to provide the Future Fund review with advice and evidence to help it reach the responsible decision to cease any investments in the tobacco industry.
Click here for full press release.
The AMA List of Medical Services and Fees (AMA List), effective 1 November 2012, has been distributed to all members listed as being in private practice or with rights of private practice, and to salaried members who have ordered a copy.
To access the List from the AMA website simply enter your username and password in the box on the right hand side of the home page and follow these steps:
A Fees Indexation Calculator (option 13) is also available for members to calculate their own fee increase based on their individual cost profile.
The AMA Fees List Online Database (option 12), where members can view, print or download individual items or groups of items to suit their needs, has been updated as at 1 November 2012.
AMA members, can also access the AMA List of Medical Services and Fees and other relevant tools via the GP Desktop Practice Support Toolkit.
AMA Careers Advisory Service update
The AMA Careers Advisory Service and website is live and has received many enquiries about general and more specific career pathways in medicine as well as non-medical career alternatives. The AMA Careers website provides a significant amount of information on these topics as well as direct links to external websites and a list of helpful steps to help you along your medical career pathway.
The AMA Careers Service can provide advice to medical students requiring assistance with internship applications, resumes and cover letters, Doctors in Training about interview skills to enhance their competitive edge for medical college interviews and to qualified medical professionals who are interested in exploring employment opportunities beyond medical practice, whilst still utilising their skills and expertise.
Visit the website if you haven’t already at http://careers.ama.com.au. Any feedback is welcome and can be submitted via the online feedback form on the website.
Stay tuned for more information on how this service can assist you along your medical career path.
If you, and your colleagues, would like to convene a skills workshop contact Kathryn Morgan, Careers Consultant on (02) 6270 5410 or 1300 884 196 (toll free) or email email@example.comWe welcome your comments and suggestions as well. Please tell us what you think.
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AMA is the peak medical organisation in Australia representing the profession’s interests to Government and the wider community. Your Federal AMA General Practice Policy team can be contacted by phone (02) 6270 5400. You can unsubscribe from GPNN by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org