Medicare Benefits Schedule Review – important changes for GPs

24 Aug 2017

The Department of Health has announced changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), which affect GPs.

Changes include the removal of the block on aftercare payments and an increase on the rebate for selected procedures performed by GPs. These updates follow recommendations from the MBS Review Taskforce, which importantly allows health professionals to have their say on changes proposed by the Government.

It has been recognised that GPs often provide aftercare for a patient instead of the specialist who performed the procedure. This is welcome news for rural doctors and their patients who often travel considerable distance to see a specialist and cannot reasonably return for aftercare.

The administrative block that automatically rejected payment of services that presented as aftercare will be removed, meaning doctors will be able to bill for aftercare and lower their administration costs by reducing the number of claims to follow up. More information on the aftercare changes is available here.

A number of minor procedures that had different benefits and item numbers according to whether the service was provided by a GP or another medical specialist have been revised. MBS fees and rebates on 31 minor procedures have been increased from the GP rate to the specialist rate. This creates equality across the procedure provided, rather than on who performed the procedure and recognises the work of GPs in performing these procedures. More information on the rebate change is available here.

These changes to the MBS commence on 1 November 2017.